Cairo, Oct 28 (efe-epa).- An outcry against France has been growing in the Middle East after French President Emmanuel Macron defended cartoons of Islam’s prophet Muhammad, deemed offensive by Muslims.
The international row over the caricatures was sparked by Macron’s defense of the caricatures following the murder and beheading earlier this month of a history teacher in France who allegedly showed them to his students.
Protests have since led to calls for a boycott of French products.
On Wednesday, Egypt became the latest country to wade in to the dispute surrounding France’s vehement defense of the right to show the Muhammad cartoons.
“If people have the right to express what comes to their mind, I think that this stops at offending more than 1.5 billion people,” Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said in a televised speech during a ceremony to celebrate the birthday of the prophet.
Ahmed al-Tayyeb, the grand imam of the Cairo-based al-Azhar, Sunni Islam’s influential seat of learning, also called during the same event on the international community to criminalize anti-Muslim actions and discrimination against them.
France would “not give up cartoons,” Macron said after the killing of teacher Samuel Paty near Paris.
Paty had allegedly shown the cartoons that originally appeared in French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to a class on freedom of expression.
Macron reiterated his stance in a tweet on Sunday, saying: “We will not give in, ever.”
“We respect all differences in a spirit of peace. We do not accept hate speech and defend reasonable debate. We will always be on the side of human dignity and universal values,” he continued.
Lebanon’s acting Premier Hassan Dian tweeted that freedom turns into chaos when it goes over the limit and offends the freedoms of others.
“The persistence in insulting the Prophet Muhammad is an attack against Muslims in the world, but the response to it is by adhering to the values of the prophet and not by violence,” he said.
A Saudi Foreign Ministry official Tuesday rejected in a statement on the kingdom’s press agency SPA any attempts to link Islam with terrorism, and denounced cartoons offensive to Muhammad or any of the other prophets.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry has summoned the head of the French embassy to Iran over the cartoons and strongly denounced “any insult at or disrespect for the holy prophet of Islam and other Islamic sanctities by any individuals or officials,” according to state-run news agency IRNA.
Calls to stop buying French products have been gaining momentum in recent days.
Traders in Jordan, Kuwait and Qatar have pulled French goods from their stores over the past few days.
Social media users shared lists of French brands calling for people to boycott them.
Qatar has added its voice to the condemnation.
On Monday, the government criticized “the great escalation of populist rhetoric inciting the abuse of religions,” and rejected all forms of hate speech based on belief, according to the state news agency.EFE-EPA