This started on October 16, when an 18-year-old Chechen refugee in France beheaded 47-year-old schoolteacher Samuel Paty – days after Paty showed caricatures of Prophet Mohammed to his students.
Macron was quick to respond to the incident later described as an “Islamist terror attack”. Macron said: “We will continue… We will defend the freedom that you taught so well and we will bring secularism.” He said the teacher’s beheading was an attack on “the republic and its values”.
Macron’s series of comments were perceived as “anti-Islam” in some countries, leading to calls for French brands to be boycotted. Hashtags such as “#BoycottFrenchProducts” and “#MacronApologizeToMuslims” were seen trending on social media for days. One of the first boycott calls came from Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is known to have taken on the West in the past to stir up patriotic support at the domestic level. But now, he is positioning himself as the voice of Muslims across the world.
“What is Macron's problem with Islam? What is his problem with Muslims?” Erdogan said. “Macron needs some sort of mental treatment. What else is there to say about a head of state who doesn't believe in the freedom of religion and behaves this way against the millions of people of different faiths living in his own country?” France reacted by recalling its ambassador in Ankara and terming Erdogan’s comments “unacceptable”.
Social media was quickly flooded with visuals of supermarkets in Arab countries removing French products from their shelves. Protests against France erupted in many countries, including Bangladesh, Syria, Libya, Iran and Iraq, and some in India. A group also demonstrated outside the French embassy in Moscow, Russia.
With no sign of any side backing down, the escalations are likely to keep spiralling. On October 29, three people were killed in a knife attack at a church in Nice. Macron said it was an "Islamist terrorist attack".
Police were holding a 21-year-old Tunisian migrant, identified by a French police source and Tunisian officials as Brahim al-Aouissaoui, over the attack in which a man shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest) decapitated a woman and killed two other people in Notre Dame Basilica in Nice on Thursday.
Today, A Greek Orthodox priest has been left with life-threatening injuries after being shot in the French city of Lyon. The priest - identified by police as 45-year-old father-of-two Nikolas Kakavelakis - was fired at twice while he was closing a church at about 4pm. Officers locked down the area and had told the public to stay away while the suspect was at large. Police later confirmed that an arrest had been made.
In Saudi Arabia, police have arrested a man outside the French consulate in Jeddah after he allegedly stabbed a guard, amid heightened anti-France sentiment across the Muslim world and apparent terrorist attacks in two French cities. The Saudi national used a “sharp tool” to injure the guard, who is receiving treatment in hospital, the Saudi Press Agency said.
About 10,000 people marched through Karachi, Pakistan’s biggest city. Demonstrations in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad turned violent as some 2,000 people who tried to march towards the French embassy were pushed back by police firing tear gas and beating protesters with batons.
Protests were also held in Lebanon’s capital, Beirut. A few hundred demonstrators flocked towards the Palais des Pins, the official residence of the French ambassador to Lebanon, but found their way blocked by lines of police officers in riot gear. Waving black and white flags the activists yelled, “At your service, oh Prophet of God.” Some slung stones at police who responded with tear gas.
In Afghanistan, members of Hezb-i-Islami set the French flag ablaze. Its leader, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, warned Macron if he does not “control the situation, we are going to a third world war and Europe will be responsible”. Cries of “Death to France” rang out in Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul and several other provinces as thousands filled the streets. Demonstrators trampled on portraits of Macron and called on Afghan leaders to shut down the French embassy, sever ties and ban French citizens from the country.
More videos of the protests taking place across Islamic countries protesting Macron comments and France:
They even managed to protest in Israel
This story is fascinatingly familiar for anyone who followed the news long enough.
Ironic how most religions are heavily critical of anyone who doesn't follow them, yet religious people can get that offended when criticized.