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Understanding the hypocrisy of opinion in the Muslim world

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France and the rest of Europe face a serious threat from Islamist terrorism. This became more evident after the brutal beheading of schoolteacher Samuel Paty, the terrorist attacks in Nice and Vienna, and the disgust and contempt that most Muslim countries have expressed for French values. French President Emmanuel Macron’s fight against Islamist separatism fights the radicalization and socio-economic marginalization of Muslims in France. Some of these measures include banning virginity testing, restrictions on home schooling, and stricter oversight of foreign funding for mosques. Macron’s plan allows for the integration of Muslims and protects those who reject a radical and violent interpretation of Islam. It guarantees that women are treated with a minimum of respect, that children have access to education and that every Muslim in France has the right to the same freedoms as other French citizens. Despite this, France has faced the fury of the Muslim world, with mass protests taking place in many countries. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has denounced Europe’s alleged Islamophobia, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has led the charge for Muslims to boycott French products, and former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad has horribly suggested that Muslims “had the right to kill millions of French people”. However, their outrage at France’s support for freedom of expression and secularism as Islamophobic is gravely undermined by their silence and the occasional defense of China’s treatment of Uyghurs. The Chinese government has organized re-education camps in Xinjiang, where more than a million Uyghur Muslims are held. They are forced to renounce and denounce their religion, consume pork and alcohol, and there have been cases where women have been forcibly sterilized or fitted with contraceptive devices. The government has destroyed mosques and describes Islam as a “virus” that must be cured. China actively persecutes Muslims solely on the basis of their faith. His treatment of Uyghurs illustrates Islamophobia. However, courageous appeals condemning Chinese Islamophobia are nowhere to be found. There are no calls to boycott Chinese products, Xi Jinping’s portrait is not trampled, the Chinese flag is not burned and there are no cries of “Death to China” . IN FACT, in 2019, when most European countries condemned the persecution facing Uyghurs, most Muslim countries – such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the Palestinian Authority, Iran and the Pakistan – cowardly praised China’s measures to counter extremism, even going so far as to participate in the state’s rhetoric that “all ethnic groups enjoy their happy lives in a peaceful and stable environment” and claiming that China has maintained “openness and transparency”. Erdogan’s Turkey, once a champion of Uyghur rights, has started arresting and deporting exiled Uyghurs in order to safeguard its economic and political interests with China.

The hypocrisy shown by these leaders proves that their goal is not to fight Islamophobia but to attack freedom of expression. Freedom of speech is the foundation of democracy and poses an existential threat to autocratic regimes, especially those that claim to be democracies. The countries that attacked France for Islamophobia are simply trying to distract their populations from their mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic, the excessive corruption of their countries and the deteriorating economic conditions. It is nothing more than a cheap political ploy to consolidate power. It is not surprising that France’s most fervent opponents of secularism (secularism) are also the countries with the most censorship and restrictions on free speech. The right to blasphemy, as disrespectful as it is. ‘it may be for some, is a fundamental value that allows us to hold and debate the different interpretations of all religions. When we allow demagogues and fanatics to impose what should and should not be tolerated, we also allow them to define what Islam is for nearly two billion people. Most Muslims reject this radical interpretation of Islam. It is time for them to show solidarity with France to defend freedom of expression. Instead of blaming the cartoonists for drawing caricatures of the prophet, they should unequivocally condemn those who incite violence. The ability to criticize and mock all ideologies, religions and political figures allows us to engage in open discourse. Democracy is not just about having the right to vote, but also having the freedom to express our minds and choose our beliefs, although this can sometimes be uncomfortable.The writer is a Franco-Syrian political consultant and director of international relations at the Center for Political and Foreign Affairs (CPFA).



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