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France minister visits Egypt in bid to ease tensions with Muslim world

November 9, 2020 at 12:09 pm

French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in Berlin, Germany on 27 March 2019 [Abdülhamid Hoşbaş/Anadolu Agency]

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian yesterday met senior Egyptian officials, including President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and the Grand Mufti of Al-Azhar Ahmed Tayeb in a bid to deescalate tensions with Muslims following the republication of abusive caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), news agencies reported.

During a meeting with Al-Sisi, Le Drian discussed the issue and the Egyptian president reiterated the importance of “coexistence” among the followers of all religions.

Meanwhile, the Grant Mufti said: “Insulting our Prophet is completely unacceptable, and we will pursue anyone who disrespects our honourable Prophet in international courts, even if we spend the rest of our lives on this matter alone.”

“I am the first to protest freedom of speech when this freedom offends any religion, not only Islam,” stressing that “Europe is indebted to our Prophet Muhammad and to our religion, due to the light this religion has introduced to all humanity.”

READ: France condemns Erdogan over ‘violence’, threatens sanctions on Turkey

Regarding links between terror and Islam, Al-Tayeb said: “We reject calling terrorism ‘Islamic’.” Adding that Muslims around the world reject terrorism and stressed that Islam and its prophet have nothing to do with terrorism.

The grand mufti stressed that “violations can be found among followers of all religions and under all systems. If we say that Christianity is not responsible for the New Zealand incident, we also have to say that Islam is not responsible for the terrorism of those fighting in its name.”

Meanwhile, Le Drian said: “The grand mufti proposed we work together towards a common convergence … because together we must fight fanaticism.”

“I have emphasised, and emphasise here, the deep respect we have for Islam. What we are fighting is terrorism, it is the hijacking of religion, it is extremism,” he added.

As a result of French Presiden Emmanuel Macron’s backing of the republication of the insulting cartoons and the subsequent crackdown on the Muslim community in France, a boycott of French products, brands, and businesses throughout Muslim-majority countries has been enforced by non-governmental entities. With France calling on world leaders to stop such measures.

READ: Al-Sisi could have restored Egypt as a key regional player, but has opted not to