French President Emmanuel Macron (File Photo/Ludovic Marin)

Indonesia Condemns Macron's Statements on Islam

BY :NATASIA CHRISTY WAHYUNI, DION BISARA

OCTOBER 31, 2020

Jakarta. Indonesia has condemned the statements from French President Emmanuel Macron, which was deemed disrespectful toward Islam and the Muslim community worldwide, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said on Friday. 

"Indonesia condemns the statements made by the President of France that is disrespectful towards Islam and the Muslim community worldwide," the Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

"The statement has offended over 2 billion Muslims globally and has sparked division among different faiths in the world," the ministry said. 

The ministry did not specify Macron's statement that is deemed disrespectful. Macron has drawn angry responses from Muslim leaders and falls for boycotts on French products in the Muslim world after suggesting that "Islam is a religion in crisis" in a speech on Oct 2

The speech was actually about what he called Islamist separatism, an ideology wielded by some Muslims in France who tried to asserts religious laws and threaten the country's secularism principle. 

"I do not ask any of our citizens to believe or not to believe, to believe a little or moderately, it is not the business of the Republic, but I ask any citizen, whatever his religion or not, to respect absolutely all the laws of the Republic," Macron said. 

"And there is in this radical Islamism [...] a methodical organization to contravene the laws of the Republic and create a parallel order, to erect other values, develop another organization of society, separatist at first, but whose final goal is to take control, complete it. And it is what makes us gradually come to reject freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, the right to blasphemy," the French president said. 

The speech came in light of rising tension in the country following Islamist terrorists attract in recent times. These include an attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo office in Paris in 2015, killing 12. 

Two weeks after the speech, an 18-year-old Muslim refugee killed and beheaded Samuel Paty with a knife. Paty was a school teacher who days earlier showed Charlie Hebdo's caricatures of the Islam Prophet Muhammad to his classes as part of a lesson about freedom of expression. 

On Thursday, another attack happened on Notre Dame Basilica in Nice, killing three congregation members. Less than a kilometer from the church, 86 people lost their lives when an attacker drove a truck into a crowd in 2016.

Global Response

Still, macron comment about Islam and the right of blasphemy has drawn fire from Muslim leaders worldwide. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan — who has been exchanging strong words with Macron in recent months on various issues ranging from the Cyprus conflict, oil in the eastern Mediterranean, and the Azerbaijan-Armenian conflict — wasted no time in attacking Macron for his comment about Islam. Erdogan called the French president Islamophobic, questioned his mental health, and called for a boycott of French products. 

Mahathir Mohamad, a two-time Malaysian prime minister, also caused a stir on social media for his response to Macron comments. 

"Muslims have a right to be angry and to kill millions of French people for the massacres of the past," Mahathir in a tweet on Thursday. Twitter removed this tweet tweet for violation of the platform's terms and conditions. 

"But by and large, the Muslims have not applied the “eye for an eye” law. Muslims don’t. The French shouldn’t. Instead, the French should teach their people to respect other people’s feelings," he said in a subsequent tweet. 

Indonesia took a similar position to Mahathir's. 

"Freedom of expression should not be exercised in ways that tarnish the honor, sanctity, and sacredness of religious values and symbols," the Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry said. 
 
"As the largest Muslim-populated country and the third-largest democracy in the world, Indonesia urges the global community to put forward unity and religious tolerance, particularly amidst the on-going pandemic.," the ministry said. 

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