French Muslim leaders slam anti-French boycott

(FMT) – Several French Muslim leaders on Monday condemned calls for boycotts of French goods in Muslim countries as “unjustified” and accused those leading the charge of “using Islam for political gain”.

“There are times when we must show solidarity with our country which has suffered unjustified attacks in the past weeks,” the heads of three major mosques and three Muslim associations said in a joint statement.

French law, they said, “gives a lot of space to freedom of expression” and gives citizens the right “to believe or not believe.”

The leaders of the Great Mosques of Paris, Lyon and the French Mediterranean island of Reunion, along with the leaders of three Muslim groups condemned terrorism “and all forms of violence in the name of our religion”.

They also expressed indignation at “calls for murder launched by foreign leaders”, apparently referring to a tweet by the former prime minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad, who claimed Muslims had “a right to be angry and kill millions of French people.”

The statement came as the backlash continued against President Emmanuel Macron’s defence of the right to show cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, an act for which French schoolteacher Samuel Paty was murdered.

Depictions of Muhammad are considered offensive by many Muslims.

Tens of thousands of people took part in further anti-French demonstrations in Bangladesh and Indonesia on Monday.

Turkey, Syria, Mali and the Gaza Strip have also seen protests and in parts of the Gulf retailers and consumers have boycotted French products.

Macron sought to calm the tensions on Saturday, telling an Arab TV channel he understood the cartoons could be shocking — while lashing out at “lies” that the French state was behind them.