The gap between the Muslim world and France is widening as leaders and the public in several Muslim countries respond to an October 2 speech in which President Emmanuel Macron said Islam was “in crisis” worldwide.
The fallout deepens amid renewed French support for the right to display caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.
The Prophet is deeply revered by Muslims and any kind of visual representation is forbidden in Islam. The cartoons in question are viewed by them as offensive and Islamophobic because they associate Islam with terrorism.
The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo republished cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in early September, and a French teacher who showed his students the cartoons in class was beheaded by an attacker on October 16.
The developments have sparked a war of words between the French authorities and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has supported growing calls for a boycott of French goods.
As a sign of the spread of anger, demonstrators in several countries denounced the European country today in street protests.
Protests recently took place in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Palestine, Iran and Afghanistan, among others.
Here is a timeline of recent events:
September 1st – Prophet Cartoons republished
Charlie Hebdo announced that it would republish the cartoons of Prophet Muhammad to mark the beginning of the trial of alleged accomplices in the fatal attack of 2015.
Among the cartoons, most of which were first published by a Danish newspaper in 2005 and by Charlie Hebdo a year later, is one of the prophets wearing a bombshell turban with a protruding fuse.
French President Emmanuel Macron said it was not his job to judge Charlie Hebdo’s decision to reprint the cartoons.
“It is never the place of a President of the Republic to judge the editorial choice of a journalist or a newsroom, never. Because we have freedom of the press, ”said Macron.
September 2 – The trial of the 2015 attack begins
Fourteen people were tried in Paris for helping the armed men attack Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people and injuring 11 others.
Twelve people, including some of the magazine’s best-known cartoonists, were killed when two men stormed Charlie Hebdo’s Paris offices and sprayed the building with automatic rifle fire.
September 25th – Attack outside Charlie Hebdo’s former office
A man armed with a meat cleaver attacked and wounded two people who were smoking outside the former Charlie Hebdo Paris office, where the 2015 attack took place.
The prime suspect, an 18-year-old man of Pakistani origin, was arrested near the scene. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said it was “clearly an act of Islamist terrorism”.
Charlie Hebdo cleared its offices after the 2015 attack and is now in a secret location.
October 2 – Macron calls Islam “religion in crisis”
Macron revealed a plan to defend France’s secular values against what he called “Islamist radicalism” and said the religion was “in crisis” around the world.
In a national address, Macron said “no concessions” would be made to drive religion out of education and the public sector in France.
He announced that in December the government would propose a bill to strengthen a 1905 law that officially separated church and state in France.
October 16 – beheading of the French teacher
An 18-year-old man of Chechen origin beheaded Samuel Paty, a 47-year-old teacher who showed students cartoons of the Prophet in a civic lesson on free speech.
Paty was attacked on his way home from secondary school where he was teaching in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, about 30 kilometers northwest of Paris.
October 20th – Paris mosque closed
The French authorities said they would close a Paris mosque to fight “radical Islam” after Paty was beheaded.
The mosque in a densely populated suburb northeast of Paris had posted a video on its Facebook page days before the gruesome murder on Friday, railing against the teacher’s choice of materials for a class discussion on freedom of expression, a source close to said Investigation.
October 22nd – “We will not give up cartoons”
Macron paid tribute to Paty and called him a “silent hero” who made it his business to teach his students the democratic values of the French Republic.
“We’re not going to give up cartoons,” Macron said at a nationally televised ceremony at Sorbonne University in Paris that was attended by Paty’s family.
The president awarded Paty France’s highest civilian prize, the Legion of Honor, and said he was murdered by “cowards” for defending the secular, democratic values of the French republic.
“He was killed because Islamists want our future,” Macron said. “You never will.”
October 24 – Erdogan: Macron needs mental control
Turkey’s Erdogan said Macron needed “psychological treatment” because of his stance toward Muslims, prompting France to recall its ambassador.
“What is this person named Macron’s problem with Muslims and Islam?” he said.
Erdogan added: “What else can you say to a head of state who does not understand freedom of belief and behaves this way towards millions of people in his country who are of another belief?”
October 24 – Growing calls to boycott French products
Social media users in many Muslim countries participate in calls to boycott French goods. Street protests broke out, and days later Erdogan supported the movement to stop buying French products.
October 28 – Charlie Hebdo publishes a cartoon by Erdogan
Charlie Hebdo published a cartoon of Erdogan criticized by the Turkish authorities as a “disgusting effort” to “spread their cultural racism and hatred”.
Erdogan said later that day that western countries making fun of Islam wanted to “restart the crusades,” adding that it was “an honor for us” to stand up against attacks on the Prophet.
October 29 – Knife attack in Nice, armed man killed in Avignon, Saudi stabs guard at the embassy
An attacker wielding a knife killed three people at noon in a church in the French city of Nice.
Within hours of the Nice attack, police in Montfavet near the southern French city of Avignon killed a man who had threatened passers-by with a pistol.
In Saudi Arabia, state television reported Thursday that a Saudi man was arrested in the city of Jeddah after attacking and injuring a guard at the French consulate.