The French Foreign Ministry has called on the Pakistani envoy to protest President Arif Alvi’s claims that a French law against radical Islam stigmatizes Muslims.
Speaking at a conference on religion Saturday, Alvi said, “When you see laws being changed in favor of a majority in order to isolate a minority, it is a dangerous precedent.”
Referring specifically to the legislation drawn up over caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad after a French teacher was beheaded by an Islamist radical, Alvi said, “If you insult the Prophet, you insult all Muslims.
“I urge France’s political leadership not to legislate these attitudes … You have to bring people together – not shape a religion in a certain way and create disharmony among people or create biases.”
Pakistan was one of several Muslim countries where furious anti-French protests took place in October against President Emmanuel Macron’s defense of the right to cartoons featuring the Prophet Muhammad.
The country with the second largest number of Muslims in the world after Indonesia does not have an ambassador in France.
The French Foreign Ministry said late Monday that it had asked Pakistan’s business partners to “mark our surprise and disapproval (over Alvis’ remarks) that the bill contains no discriminatory element “.
“It is based on the basic principles of freedom of religion and conscience, does not distinguish between the various religions and therefore applies equally to all faiths,” said the ministry.
“Pakistan needs to understand this and take a constructive stance on our bilateral relations,” it added.
The law passed by the lower house of the French parliament last week is called the “anti-separatism” law, borrowing from Macron’s claim that Islamists are cutting themselves off from French society by refusing to promote secularism, gender equality and accept other French values.
The legislation significantly expands the powers of the state to shut down religious organizations and places of worship if they are found to emit “theories or ideas” that “provoke hatred or violence against a person or people”.
A new crime of “separatism” is also emerging, which is described as a threat to an officer seeking “total or partial exemption or other application of the rules” punishable by a prison sentence of up to five years.
The Pakistani government has strongly condemned Macron’s crackdown on radical Islam after a wave of attacks that killed over 250 people.
Prime Minister Imran Khan accused Macron on Sunday in October of “attacking Islam” and “promoting Islamophobia” for defending the right to publish cartoons of Mohammed.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)