Jakarta, Oct 31 (efe-epa).- Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Saturday criticized his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, for comments that have sparked a wave of protests across the Muslim world, while also condemning the recent fatal terror attacks in Paris and Nice that left four people dead.
“Indonesia also condemns the statements of the French president that insulted Islam, which has hurt the feelings of Muslims in the world and could break the unity of believers in Indonesia,” Widodo said, according to an official statement.
The president of Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country in the world, called for tolerance and unity at a difficult time because of the pandemic, but said that freedom of expression does not justify insulting the honor and sacredness of religion.
“To associate religion with acts of terrorism is a great mistake. Terrorism is terrorism, terrorists are terrorists. Terrorism has nothing to do with religion,” Widodo said.
On Thursday, a Tunisian man killed three people – one of whom was decapitated – in a knife attack on a cathedral in Nice. He was shot by police during his arrest, and is currently being treated in hospital.
That attack came just two weeks after a 47-year-old teacher, Samuel Paty, was beheaded by an extremist Islamist outside his school near Paris. Paty had shown a caricature of the prophet Muhammad published by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo – also a target of Islamist attacks in 2015 – to his pupils during a discussion on freedom of speech.
Images of the prophet are considered deeply offensive by many Muslims and are widely seen as taboo in Islam.
Following the brutal murder, Macron, who had previously vowed to defend secularism from “Islamic separatism”, pledged that the country would “not give up its cartoons”.
Indonesia joins a long list of countries including Turkey, Jordan, Morocco, Iran and Bangladesh in condemning Macron.
Among the measures Macron announced to fight fundamental Islamists in France are strengthening the law on secularism, eradicating religion from education, and increasing control of funding and training in mosques in France, which is home to the largest Muslim community in Europe.
Macron has been accused of Islamophobia by many Muslim organizations and countries, especially by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who went so far as to say that he has “colonial reflexes” and requires “mental health therapy”. EFE-EPA