Like many other Islamic nations, India has also witnessed massive protests against French President Emmanuel Macron following his comments justifying the caricature of Prophet Mohammad.
India has 172 million Muslims as per the 2011 census and this makes it the country with the largest Muslim population outside Muslim-majority countries and the second-largest (or even third) after Indonesia. The exact population from both India and Pakistan remain available.
On Friday, posters of Macron were found pasted on a busy road in Mumbai as Muslims in India joined the protests against the French President. Similar posters were spotted on the Mohammed Ali Road under JJ flyover in Mumbai’s Bhendi Bazaar.
In the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, Congress MLA Arif Masood led thousands of Muslims who raised slogans against Macron while protesters in Uttar Pradesh’s Aligarh demanded a death sentence for the French President.
Anti-Macron demonstrations also took place in cities such as Saharanpur, Srinagar, Ludhiana and many other places
— Mohd Adil shaikh?? (@MAdil2221) October 31, 2020
At Ratabari, Karimganj (Assam) protest against the French govt for displaying a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad, the symbol of humanity. #iLoveMuhammad_PBUH#FranceMustApologize #FranceShameOnYou #ProphetMuhammad4All #France_SpreadingHate #StopMacron #boycottfrenchproduct pic.twitter.com/X1p4yTLel4
— Mosrul Khan (@Mosrul_Khan) October 31, 2020
— Aisha Mahrosh (@AishaMahrosh) October 31, 2020
Macron’s stand to not renounce Prophet Mohammad’s caricatures by magazine Charlie Hebdo has raised the ire of Muslims across the globe.
The French President has sparked global outrage by accusing Muslims of “separatism” and describing Islam as “a religion in crisis all over the world”. The protesters in countries like Turkey, Pakistan and Bangladesh have called for a boycott of French goods.
Similarly in India, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) appealed to the Muslims to boycott French products. Congress MLA Arif Masood has demanded that the Union government asked the Indian Ambassador to France to register a protest against the “anti-Muslim” stand of the country’s regime.
While Macron’s comments came weeks after a 45-year-old teacher was beheaded by an 18-year-old Abdullah Anzorov, who was a Russian-born Chechen refugee, for allegedly showing Prophet Mohammad’s caricature as part of a class on liberalism, France is witnessing a rise in such incidents as three more killings took place on Thursday.
The world seems divided as Muslims condemn Macron’s comments and non-Muslims support Macron and criticize Muslims for not condemning the terror attacks (even though many have condemned)
As per Twitter users, the outrage and protests are not in the support of the killings but against Islamophobia. Hashtags related to France such as #FranceMustApologize and #IndiaWillBackFrance are trending on Twitter, quite clearly highlighting the building divide.
मैक्रों का विरोध कब से फ्रांस का विरोध हो गया ? ये उस तुलना का अंतरराष्ट्रीयकरण करने की कोशिश है जिसमें कहा जाता है मोदी विरोध का मतलब देश का विरोध। संघ का एजेंडा कितने महीन तरीक़े से आगे बढ़ाया जा रहा है। https://t.co/JSKw9HPOBb
— Syed Mohammad Murtaza (@syedmohdmurtaza) October 30, 2020
With right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been accused of discriminating against Muslims due to their Citizenship Amendment Act and a rise in violence against Muslims in past six years.
Amidst the protests from Indian Muslims, the Indian government has made its stand clear of standing with Macron. Leaders of Muslim-majority countries like Turkey and Pakistan have criticized Macron, but India has reiterated its support to Paris four times in two days.
On Wednesday, following the barbs from Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, India’s external affairs ministry released a statement saying: “We strongly deplore the personal attacks in unacceptable language on President Emmanuel Macron in violation of the most basic standards of international discourse.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday criticized the terror attacks as he tweeted: “I strongly condemn the recent terrorist attacks in France, including today’s heinous attack in Nice inside a church. Our deepest and heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and the people of France. India stands with France in the fight against terrorism.”
Meanwhile, India’s foreign affairs secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, who is on a visit to European countries, interacted with French media on Friday and said the two countries cannot pretend such actions “come from lone wolf initiatives and misguided individuals”, as there is “an infrastructure of radicalism, including its online manifestations, that comes into play”.
The relations between Paris and New Delhi seem to have stood the testing waters as Shringla described France as India’s oldest strategic partner and a steadfast friend in several domains, ranging from terrorism to global warming, maritime security to sustainable development, and norms-based international institutions to technology and innovation.
Earlier in this year following the beginning of a military stand-off between India and China, France had openly supported India. Following the death of 20 Indian soldiers in Ladakh, French defence minister Florence Parly wrote a letter to Indian defence minister Rajnath Singh and expressed “deep solidarity”, “steadfast and friendly support”.
France had even ensured faster delivery of Rafale fighter jets, which were likely to be delayed due to the pandemic-induced lockdown.
Even though Indian Muslims have aggressively supported the boycott of French good, an IAF expert who did not wish to be named sarcastically said “Thank God they are not asking for a boycott of Rafale Jets, else the situation would have not been challenging but completely hilarious”