Controversy between Malaysia and France over Macron’s Islam statements

Bangkok, Oct 28 (efe-epa).- Malaysia joined the chorus of Muslim countries that have criticized the statements on Islam by French President Emmanuel Macron, with a condemnation of “the defamation of Islam,” to which the French Embassy in Kuala Lumpur responded Wednesday.

In the statement, the Embassy said “religious freedom is protected by the French Constitution and the legal system” and defended Macron’s speech by arguing that he did not attack the Muslim community, “but rather an ideology, radical Islamism, which must be isolated and fought.”

The embassy was responded to a statement issued Tuesday by the Malaysian Foreign Ministry in which it “strongly condemned any inflammatory rhetoric and provocative acts that try to smear Islam,” without explicitly mentioning the French president.

The Malaysian ministry reiterated its commitment to defend freedom of expression “as long as it is exercised with respect and responsibility without infringing or violating the rights of others” and condemned cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad or the association of Islam with terrorism.

For its part, the statement from the French Embassy defended the concept of French secularism and welcomed the “guarantees offered by the Malaysian authorities that the Malaysian government will not join the requests” to boycott French products launched by some countries.

Boycott calls and condemnation of the French government came after Macron said on Oct. 21 that France “will not renounce the cartoons” of Muhammad, after the murder and beheading of a teacher for having shown his high school students what the Charlie Hebdo magazine published in September.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recommended “mental therapy” to his French counterpart, denouncing the measures announced by Macron to curb radical Islamism in France and defend freedom of expression. EFE-EPA


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