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#FranceMustApologize trends on Twitter as Muslims, from Pakistan to Lebanon, stage anti-Macron protests

10:02 PM Oct 30, 2020 | FPJ Web Desk

Thousands of Muslims took to the streets across nations over the last few days to protest the French president Emmanuel Macron's support of secular laws allowing caricatures of the Prophet, burning effigies of him and calling for a boycott of French products.

By Friday evening, the hashtag #FranceMustApologize was trending on Twitter, demanding Macron's apology for the recent comments which triggered a row.

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For those who have been living under a rock, the killings by a knife-wielding assailant in a church in the French city of Nice prompted a vow from President Emmanuel Macron to stand firm against attacks on French values and freedom of belief.

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The violence came at a time of growing Muslim anger over France's defence of the right to publish cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad, and protesters have denounced France in street rallies in several Muslim-majority countries.

Over the past week, protests and calls to boycott French products have spread rapidly from Bangladesh to Pakistan to Kuwait. Social media has been pulsing with anti-France hashtags. Some of the significant regions where the majority of the protests took place:

Bangladesh

A protest march calling for the boycott of French products in Dhaka

Protests were also reported across the country after Friday's weekly Muslim prayers.

In Dhaka, tens of thousands of people from more than a dozen Islamist parties and groups poured into the streets near the Baitul Mokarram national mosque demanding that Bangladesh sever relations with France.

Some carried banners reading "Say no to Islamphobia" and "Boycott French products." Barbed-wire fences were installed near the mosque as hundreds of police in riot gear cordoned off the processions.

The protesters carried effigies of President Emmanuel Macron and then burned them.

Protests began in the Muslim-majority country earlier this week, with pressure growing on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to officially denounce France.

Pakistan

Pakistani Sunni Muslims burn a French flag during a protest in Karachi

Demonstrations in Pakistan's capital Islamabad turned violent as some 2,000 people who tried to march toward the French Embassy were pushed back by police firing tear gas and beating protesters with batons.

Crowds of Islamist activists hanged an effigy of French President Emmanuel Macron from a highway overpass after pounding it furiously with their shoes. Several demonstrators were wounded in clashes with police and authorities deployed more security forces to protect the embassy.

In Pakistan's eastern city of Lahore, thousands of worshippers celebrating the Mawlid, the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, took to the streets, chanting anti-France slogans, raising banners and clogging major roads en route to a Sufi shrine.

In Multan, a city in Pakistan's eastern Punjab province, thousands more burned an effigy of Macron and demanded that Pakistan sever ties with France and boycott French goods.

Jerusalem

Palestinians shout slogans as they gather to protest against the French President, in the al-Aqsa mosque compound, in the Old City of Jerusalem

In Jerusalem, hundreds of Palestinians protested against Macron outside the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, chanting, "With our souls and with our blood we sacrifice for our prophet, Muhammad."

Some youths scuffled with Israeli police as they exited the esplanade into the Old City. Israeli police said they successfully dispersed the gathering and detained three people.

Lebanon

Members of Lebanons security forces charge amid clashes with demonstrators at a rally called by an Islamist group in Beirut

A few hundred demonstrators in Lebanon's capital Beirut flocked toward the Palais des Pins, the official residence of the French ambassador to Lebanon, but found their way blocked by lines of police officers in riot gear. Carrying black and white flags with Islamist insignia, the Sunni Islamist activists cried, "At your service, oh prophet of God."

Some slung stones at police who responded with tear gas.

Anti-France protests in Lebanon are an embarrassment for Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, who is trying to form a new government that would implement a French plan for reform in Lebanon.

France, Lebanon's former colonial ruler, has been helping chart a course for the country out of its severe economic and financial crisis.

India

Members of the Muslim community stage a demonstration urging people to boycott France in Amritsar
Darul Uloom Deoband slams Macron for 'insulting' Prophet, AIMPLB says France 'must adopt civilised manners'

Unsurprisingly enough, the heat has reached India as well, where thousands of people were booked on Friday over anti-Macron protests in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Punjab, more significantly.

Afghanistan

Muslim demonstrators hold banners as they shout slogans during a protest in downtown Kabul

In Afghanistan, members of the Islamist party Hezb-i-Islami set the French flag ablaze. Its leader, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, warned Macron that if he doesn't 'control' the situation, "we are going to a third world war and Europe will be responsible."

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The protests come amid rising tensions between France and Muslim-majority nations, which flared up earlier this month when a young Muslim beheaded a French schoolteacher who had shown caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in class.

Those images, republished by the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to mark the opening of the trial for the deadly 2015 attack against the publication, have stirred the ire of Muslims across the world who consider depictions of the prophet blasphemous.

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