By Gokhan Kavak
ISTANBUL (AA) – Intellectuals and politicians from southern African nations blasted France on Tuesday for President Emmanuel Macron's insulting remarks about Islam and Prophet Muhammad.
"This narrative that is racist and bigoted that leaders like Macron are espousing is to deter and strike fear and hatred," Muhammad Khalid Sayed, lawmaker from South Africa’s governing African National Congress (ANC) party told Anadolu Agency.
"It is also a way of Macron trying to shift focus away from his own domestic problems amongst the French population around issues of corruption and cutting of social spending,” said Sayed, who chairs the provincial branch of the ANC Youth League. “The move toward Islam in the west is striking fear in western leaders like Macron and they use this narrative for cheap political means to stay relevant and in power.”
Macron sparked outrage across the Muslim world by accusing French Muslims of "separatism" and described Islam as "a religion in crisis."
Muhammed Haron, a professor at the University of Botswana, said: "This French president’s statements and deportment should be condemned in the harshest of terms; for it is through these that he has perpetuated one form of hate crime.”
He referenced Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's remarks about "mental treatment" needed by Macron. "One concurs with Erdogan that Macron should have ‘his mental health tested,” according to Haron, who said, the French president’s remarks were Islamophobic. "It is a crime that has been articulated under the guise of ‘freedom of expression,’" he said.
A secular and democratic state should be the umbrella of not only some but all, according to Shafiq Morton, a photojournalist in Cape Town. "Like so many European orientalists, Macron thinks democracy and secularism are about being the same, and being identical, which is actually neo-Fascism," he said.
Macron's remarks describing Islam as "a religion in crisis," was challenged by the television presenter. "How can Islam ever be in crisis when churches are closing down in Europe and more mosques are being built than any other place of worship?," he asked. "It is not Islam, or Muslims, who are in crisis. It is their political leaders, corrupt, and venal figureheads with whom Mr. Macron fraternizes."
Macron condemned the murder of a French teacher who showed controversial cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammad to a class of elementary school children. The president said France would "not give up our cartoons."
Several Arab countries, as well as Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan, have condemned Macron’s attitude toward Muslims and Islam.
Amid calls for a boycott of French products in many countries, Erdogan urged Turks not to buy French products.