As three people were killed in the French city of Nice amidst the raging global debate and outcry over French President Emmanuel Macron attributing the extremist attacks to “Islamic terror”, on 29 October, a huge gathering along with some Indian National Congress (INC) leaders protested in Madhya Pradesh’s Bhopal at Iqbal Maidan.
The protesters said that they are against French President Emmanuel Macron as he has stated that the depiction of the Prophet in cartoons won’t stop in France. Speaking at the demonstration, INC MLA Arif Masood demanded that the Union government ask the Indian Ambassador to France to register a protest against anti-Muslim stand of that country’s regime.
Now, reacting to the video of the massive crowd at Iqbal Maidan, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has said that a case will be registered against all including INC leader Masood under 188 IPC (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant). He has said that Madhya Pradesh is a place of peace and such action will not be tolerated, adding that stringent action will be taken against the culprits, irrespective of their post.
Another gruesome attack in France
On 29 October, a Tunisian-origin man armed with a knife and allegedly carrying a copy of the Quran attacked worshippers in a French church in the in Mediterranean city of Nice and killed three. This immediately prompted the government to raise its security alert to the maximum level hours before a nationwide coronavirus lockdown. The attacker was seriously wounded by police and hospitalised in life-threatening condition after the killings. Video cameras recorded the man entering the Nice train station at 6:47 am, where he changed his shoes and turned his coat inside out before heading for the church, some 400 meters (yards) away, just before 8:30 am. A knife with a 17-centimeter blade used in the attack was found near him along with a bag containing another two knives that were not used in the attack.
The attack was the third in less than two months that French authorities have attributed to Muslim extremists, including the beheading of a teacher Samuel Paty who had shown caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in class after the images were re-published by the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which was targeted in a 2015 terror attack killing 11 people and ravaging its staff.
Why is Macron being targeted?
Macron had defended the Charlie Hebdo magazine and spoken in favour of caricatures, drawing widespread criticism from Muslim majority nations, even before Paty’s killing. After the killing, he said that Paty was killed, “because he embodied the Republic which comes alive every day in classrooms, the freedom that is conveyed and perpetuated in schools. Samuel Paty was killed because Islamists want our future and because they know that with quiet heroes like him, they will never have it.”
He had opined that right to free speech included the “right to blasphemy”, and pledged to fight against “Islamic separatism” in France. On 2 October, Macron said “Islam was in crisis” and that it “plagued by radical temptations and by a yearning for a reinvented jihad which is the destruction of the other”. Even as attack and criticism continued, Macron maintained, “We will continue, we will defend the freedom that you taught so well and we will bring secularism… “we will not give up cartoons, drawings, even if others back down”.