Macron’s remarks over cartoons were distorted, says FM

Cairo, Nov 8 (efe-epa).- Remarks by French President Emmanuel Macron about caricatures of the Prophet of Islam Mohammed that led to a campaign to boycott the French products in Muslim-majority countries were distorted, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Sunday.

“We have addressed the campaign against France that was launched from the region, which began with the misrepresented and distorted use of the president’s words,” Le Drian said during a joint press conference with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shurki in Cairo.

French people fight “terror, the wrong interpretation of religion” and extremists, the French official added.

“Muslims in France are part of the history and the identity of the French republic,” he continued, speaking of his “profound respect” for Islam.

During the press conference, Shukri did not mention the controversy sparked by the cartoons, which Muslims consider sacrilegious, and the boycott campaign launched in response to Macron’s remarks.

Le Drian met Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, who stressed “the urgent need” to consolidate “the values of coexistence and tolerance among all religions, building bridges of understanding and brotherhood, and not prejudging religious symbols”.

The controversy dates back to early October when Macron said that Islam is in crisis in the world due to pressure from fundamentalists.

He also announced measures to defend secularism and contain Islamic extremism in France.

Later that month, a Chechen-born extremist beheaded a teacher in the outskirts of Paris after he showed the cartoons, published by the French sarcastic Charlie Hebdo magazine, in the classroom during a lesson on freedom of speech.

Paying tribute to the teacher a couple of days later, Macron said France “will not give up cartoons” while defending secularism, a pillar of French society.

Macron’s stance provoked a campaign to boycott French products in many Muslim-majority countries.

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