Mass protests have broken out across Muslim countries in the Middle East and Asia after French President Emmanuel Macron honored the victim of a radical Islamic terror attack and voiced support for free expression.
Tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in countries such as Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and elsewhere denouncing Macron and calling for a boycott of French goods. Protesters have set French flags on fire and burned Macron in effigy, according to Vox.
🔴 INFO – #Bangladesh : Ce mardi, 40.000 manifestants, selon les chiffres de la police ont manifesté à #Dacca brûlant notamment une effigie d'Emmanuel #Macron auquel ils reprochent d'avoir défendu le droit à caricaturer #Mahomet. #Islam #terrorisme #TerrorismeIslamiste #Islamisme pic.twitter.com/xQFCEOTJfF
— FranceNews24 (@FranceNews24) October 27, 2020
An 18-year-old Muslim man beheaded French teacher Samuel Paty on Oct. 16, reportedly in response to a “fatwa,” or judgment issued by an Islamic religious leader, placed on Paty for a free speech demonstration he gave to his class. The killer was later fatally shot by police.
Paty had shown his students depictions of the Prophet Muhammad that originally appeared in the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and had mocked the founder of Islam. Paty’s students said that the teacher had given them warning and allowed students to leave the classroom if they thought they would be offended.
Paty’s killing sparked a crackdown by the French government on individuals and groups with links to radical Islam. French authorities have conducted dozens of raids since the teacher’s death and Macron has hailed him as a martyr for French ideals, specifically free expression. As The Daily Wire reported:
France’s interior minister told the Times of Israel earlier this week that authorities have conducted “dozens of raids” on evidence collected from Paty’s killer, 18-year-old Chechen Abdullakh Anzorov. Anzorov was found with a cell phone on him, with photos of Paty, the address of Paty’s school, and a note confessing to Paty’s murder, the outlet says.
From there, authorities connected Anzorov to an online network that included Abdelhakim Sefrioui, “president of the ‘Cheikh Yassine collective,’” radical preacher, and a supporter of Hamas.
“According to French newspaper Liberation, Sefrioui was known to French security services for his Islamist activities and anti-Semitic speeches,” the Times of Israel reported Tuesday. “In July 2014, Sefrioui participated in protests in Paris, chanting slogans in praise of Palestinian terror groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad. He reportedly denounced the teacher in a video posted to social media a few days prior to the attack.”
The French crackdown has sparked its own backlash in Muslim countries as massive protests call for boycotts of France, and the protesters are often joined by their countries’ leaders in accusing the French of anti-Islam acts. The leaders of Jordan, Pakistan, Egypt, Iran, and others have condemned France for allowing the Charlie Hebdo caricatures to be published and criticized Macron after Paty’s killing, according to CNN.
Alleged Islamic terrorists attacked the Charlie Hebdo headquarters after it originally published the cartoons in 2015, killing 12 members of the magazine’s staff. The trial over the attack is ongoing in France and likely why Paty included the caricatures in his lesson.