By Hitesh Tikoo
Paris, Nov 20 (IANS) French President Emmanuel Macron has asked Muslim leaders across the country to accept a “charter of republican values” as part of a nationwide crackdown on radical Islam.
Macron gave a 15 day ultimatum to French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) to accept the charter, which will state that Islam is a religion and not a political movement, while also prohibiting “foreign interference” in Muslim groups.
This comes after three Islamist terrorist attacks took place across the country in less than a month’s time.
One of the attacks included the horrific beheading of a 47-year-old school teacher, Samuel Paty, by an 18-year-old Chechen refugee after the victim showed cartoons of Prophet Mohammed to his students in a class on freedom of speech.
Emails published by Le Monde, a French daily afternoon newspaper, revealed Paty’s reluctance to do any more teaching on freedom of speech class, days after he showed the cartoons in his class.
“It’s really distressing and particularly as it comes from a family whose child wasn’t in my lesson and isn’t someone I know. It’s becoming a malicious rumour,” Paty had written in an email.
“I won’t do any more teaching on this topic – I’ll choose another freedom as a subject for teaching,” he wrote in a separate email.
Paty’s beheading prompted a strong response from the French government, including police raiding individuals and organisations that expressed support for the attack and attacker in the immediate aftermath of the beheading.
A well know mosque in a northern suburb of Paris was shut down by French authorities as part of their clampdown on Islamist groups and suspected extremists.
President Macron has described Islam as a religion “in crisis”, and has vowed to tackle what he calls “Islamist Separatism”.
Following his comments, Macron was criticised by several Muslim majority nations, including Turkey.
Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Macron and said in a televised speech” “I’ve said it on Saturday and am repeating it again, Macron needs to get himself checked out.”
The French President and his Interior Minister, Gerald Darmanin, met eight French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) leaders at the Elysee palace on Wednesday.
“Two principles will be inscribed in black and white (in the charter): the rejection of political Islam and any foreign interference,” Le Parisien said in a report after the meeting.