French Muslim leaders call anti-French boycott ‘unjustified’


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

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

French law, they said, “gives much room for freedom of speech” and gives citizens the right “to believe or not to believe.”

The leaders of the major mosques in 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 outrage at “assassination calls launched by foreign leaders”, apparently referring to a tweet from former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, claiming that Muslims had “the right to be angry and kill millions of French people.”

The statement came as setbacks continued against President Emmanuel Macron’s defense of the right to show cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed, an act for which French schoolteacher Samuel Paty was assassinated.

>> Read more: ‘Islam is being hyperpoliticalized in France, but Muslims are not part of the debate’

Depictions of Mohammed 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 tried to calm tensions on Saturday, telling an Arab TV channel that he understood the cartoons could be shocking – while striking out with “lies” that the French state was behind them.