Understanding the Uproar on Prophet Muhammad’s cartoon in France: Know the latest updates

Ankit Kumar
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A brief look at the Freedom of expression vs Islamophobia in France


A French teen tracked down a high school history teacher and brutally beheaded him on the streets of Paris on October 16. The teacher had allegedly shown images mocking Prophet Mohammad during the lesson on freedom of expression. After the murder of the teacher, cartoons related to Prophet Muhammad was projected on the exterior of the offices of the regional council in Montpellier and Toulouse.

After the cartoon was projected on government buildings of France, there was a call for a boycott for French products across the Middle East because President Emmanuel Macron backed the decision of projection of cartoons. However, France later urged the countries in the Middle East to immediately stop calls for the boycott.

The cartoon was published in a Danish daily, Jyllands-PostenCharlie Hebdo republished them in 2006 which angered the Muslims across France and the world.

Other Instances of Killing

The beheading of the teacher is not the first incident related to the Charlie Hebdo cartoon.  As per the BBC report, the offices of Charlie Hebdo were fire-bombed in November 2011 when it published a provocative cartoon of Mohammad under the title “Charia Hebdo”.  The magazine published the special edition featuring the caricatures in 2013.

In 2015, two gunmen entered the Paris offices and massacred 12 people, including some of the famous cartoonists in France.

Islamophobia vs Freedom of expression in France

The issue got highlighted after Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical newspaper resurfaced the caricatures of the prophet to underscore the right of freedom of expression after France began the trials of 2015 terrorists attack.

The country has been jostling between the freedom of expression and Islamophobia ever since the controversial caricature was published in the Charlie Hebdo in 2006.

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While many people defend the laicite – French word for secularism that separates state and the religion in the country and believes in freedom of expression. Some believe that the freedom to practice one’s religion is as important as other people to poke fun at it, even though the rivalry can be perceived as insulting, like in the case of Prophet Mohammad caricatures. There are few people who believe that lacite encourages disrespect towards some beliefs.

Islamophobia in France

As per the report of Metro.co.uk, two Muslim women were ‘stabbed repeatedly’ under the Eiffel Tower a few days back. The Paris Police later arrested two white female suspects who attacked and allegedly shouted “dirty Arabs.” A The New York Times report said that the complaint filed by the lawyer of the women who were attacked indicated at shouting of “this is not your home” and “go back home.”

Islamophobia in France is not new. The country is home to some well-known Islamophobic writers like Jean-Marie Le Pen of the National Rally and Renaud Camus. Once, the theory of Camus inspired the Christchurch shooting in New Zealand that claimed 50 Muslim lives.

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