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Jakarta Post

Indonesia condemns France for 'disrespectful' statement on Islam

  • Budi Sutrisno

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, October 30, 2020   /   02:50 pm
Indonesia condemns France for 'disrespectful' statement on Islam French President Emmanuel Macron (right) gestures as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan walks past him during a family photo as part of the NATO summit at the Grove hotel in Watford, northeast of London, on Dec. 4, 2019. (AFP/Christian Hartmann)

Indonesia, through the Foreign Ministry, has condemned a “disrespectful” statement toward Islam made by French President Emmanuel Macron that has offended the Muslim community globally.

The ministry said Macron’s statement had offended over 2 billion Muslims in the world and also sparked division among different faiths.

“Freedom of expression should not be exercised in ways that tarnish the honor, sanctity and sacredness of religious values and symbols,” the ministry said in a statement on Friday.

As the largest Muslim-populated country and the third-largest democracy in the world, Indonesia urged the global community to put forward unity and religious tolerance, especially amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the ministry added.

Macron angered the Muslim community the world over after he made controversial statements insulting Islam and the Prophet Mohammad, prompting some Muslim countries to call for a boycott of French products.

Tension emerged in September when French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo republished controversial caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad to mark the start of the trial of the alleged accomplices of the Islamist gunmen who attacked the magazine’s offices in 2015 and killed 12 of its staffers.

In his speech earlier this month, Macron outlined new measures to combat “radical Islamism” and terrorism, aiming to “liberate French Islam from foreign influences”.

It later escalated following the gruesome murder of French teacher Samuel Paty on Oct. 16. He was beheaded outside his school for allegedly showing his class the Muhammad cartoons, prompting raids on several accused extremists and Islamic groups. Macron said France “would not give up the cartoons” in response to the killing.

Political leaders in Turkey and Pakistan have condemned Macron for disrespecting religions and marginalizing millions of Muslims.

On Sunday, French products were unloaded from several supermarket shelves in Jordan, Qatar and Kuwait. Calls for a similar boycott also occurred in Saudi Arabia, while small-scale anti-French demonstrations were held in Libya, Gaza and northern Syria.

Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) deputy chairman Muhyidin Junaidi has called on the Indonesian people not to be provoked by the calls for the boycott of French products.

“To the Indonesian Muslims and people who wish to convey their aspirations, please do it in an orderly manner. Do not damage things and follow the rules,” Muhyidin said on Thursday, as quoted by kompas.com.

Muhyidin said he believed the Indonesian government had taken diplomatic steps to respond to the current situation in a way that would not harm the bilateral relations between Indonesia and France.

Muhyidin also regretted Macron’s actions, saying that as a head of state, he should not have issued statements that might cause chaos and anger.