Macron, lambasted for criticizing radical Islam, finds support in India
France's President Emmanuel Macron, who is facing the heat from Muslim nations for his views against radical Islam, got support from India on Wednesday, a move that shows the amicable ties between both the nations. The Ministry of External Affairs released a statement slamming the attacks against Macron, and also condemned the brutal beheading of a teacher in Paris by an Islamist this month.
Macron had said the teacher became a victim of Islamist terrorism, adding that France will not bow down to such forces. The teacher was attacked in the capital days after he showed young children caricatures of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo while speaking on freedom of speech. The French President had also said Islam is a religion facing a crisis worldwide, miffing Muslim leaders.
The verbal attack on Macron was led by his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who went as far as saying that he needs treatment at a mental level. "What is the problem of this person called Macron with Muslims and Islam?" Erdogan, who wants to position Turkey as the leader of the Muslim world, said. Thereafter, when Charlie Hebdo released Erdogan's raunchy caricature, Turkey naturally fumed.
As the controversy captured global headlines, India chose not to remain just a silent ally of France. "We strongly deplore the personal attacks in unacceptable language on President Emmanuel Macron in violation of the most basic standards of international discourse," MEA's statement read, clearly targeting Turkey. MEA also offered condolences to the bereaved family of the teacher and French citizens.
Besides Turkey, India's statement was also aimed at slamming Pakistan, whose Prime Minister Imran Khan wanted Macron to provide a "healing touch" rather than "creating further polarization and marginalization that inevitably leads to radicalization." Notably, India's stance is in sharp contrast to its position in 2006, when the publication of satirical cartoons on Prophet Mohammad by a Danish daily had sparked outrage.
Years ago, just as the cartoons sparked controversy, the six-day visit of Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen to India was canceled. New Delhi told him it wasn't an optimum time to visit. Muslims term these caricatures "blasphemous." Tellingly, this time around, India chose to stand by its partner France, while also explaining that it agrees with Macron's views on radical Islam.
Besides India, other countries that have rallied behind Macron are Germany and the Netherlands. Recently, Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesperson said, "They are defamatory comments that are completely unacceptable, particularly against the backdrop of the horrific murder of the French teacher Samuel Paty by an Islamist fanatic." Dutch PM Mark Rutte tweeted, "President Erdogan's words addressing President Emmanuel Macron are unacceptable."
On Thursday, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla will begin a week-long trip to France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. About the agenda of the visit, MEA said, "Indian priorities such as robust and reformed multilateralism, its expanded multilateral and plurilateral engagements including its forthcoming non-permanent tenure in the UN Security Council, and its commitment to a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific will be discussed."