Indian Muslim groups must show maturity and restraint while protesting Islamophobia in Paris

Actions of extremist groups only vitiate the atmosphere and ignite further anti-minority sentiments, now is the time for reaching out, building trust and healing


In wake of French President Emmanuel Macron’s strong statements on terrorism after two successive attacks by Islamic fundamentalists in France, some radical clerics in India are stirring the communal fires in sensitive states. On Friday, October 30, an FIR was registered against 2,000 such protestors including Madhya Pradesh Congress MLA Arif Masood and some clerics who staged a protest against French President Emmanuel Macron. It appears that Macron’s reaction to the brutal killings is being used by communal forces as an excuse for violence.

This FIR in Madhya Pradesh was for staging the protest “in violation of Covid-19 restrictions”, however the protest itself is a bigger problem than that. There were thousands who responded to the ‘clerics’ and politician’s call for the anti-Macron protest on Thursday, when they should have been protesting the killing of the innocent citizens instead.  

The Congress MLA along with Muslim religious leaders and members of the community on Thursday had protested at Iqbal Maidan here against Macron over the controversy related to depictions of Prophet Mohammad in France.

In Mumbai, anti-France protesters put up posters slamming Emmanuel Macron, as well as stickers of his photos were pasted on the streets so commuters would be forced to walk on them and deface the image. This came a day after India expressed solidarity with France after a teacher was beheaded by radicals. Since his reaction to the horrific incident French President Emanuel Macron has been subjected to personal attacks from many Right Wing Muslims across the world.

In India these so called ‘protests’ have been limited to a few places, but threaten to endanger the entire Muslim community in India, which continues to be attacked by Right Wing Hindutva organisations regularly. According to news reports, the posters slamming Macron for ‘defending the rights to publish cartoons of the Prophet’ had  surfaced in Mumbai and Bhopal on Thursday.

By Friday afternoon, Mumbai Police removed the posters from Mohammad Ali road and Dongri, Nagpada. Stray posters were also displayed against Macron at Sewri and Mumbra stated news reports. According to a reports by Zee, some anti-Macron protests also took place in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh.

Brief background

On October 16, Samuel Paty, a French teacher, was beheaded for allegedly showing a cartoon image of the Prophet in his class. Taking part in the mourning ceremony, Macron said France will not give up such cartoons which led to some clerics and conservative Islamic leaders in Pakistan, Turkey, Malaysia strongly denouncing  Macron. 

On Thursday, in France, a woman was beheaded and two other people were killed in a suspected terrorist act in Nice. In a separate incident, a gun-wielding man was shot dead by police in French city Avignon. France is reported to have raised its security alert to the highest level on Thursday after a knife-wielding man shouting “Allahu Akbar” beheaded an elderly woman in a Church and killed two more people. Outside Notre Dame Basilica in the French Riviera city of Nice, Macron said, “We will not give any ground,” adding France had been attacked “over our values, for our taste for freedom, for the ability on our soil to have freedom of belief”. He also called for unity across religions and said people must not give in to the attempts to  divide them. 


Stirring the communal pot

Indian radical Islamic groups added fuel to the communal fire, as videos of people walking, cars driving on the posters doing the rounds on social media have begun to fuel hate speech and vilification of the entire community. 

According to news reports the Raza Academy, a Muslim organisation, was behind the ‘protest’ in Mumbai.  The Indian Express quoted Mohammad Saeed Noori, general secretary of Raza Academy, defended the protest saying, “We did this to protest against the disrespect that has been shown to the Prophet.” As soon as the images went viral, the Mumbai Police deployed personnel to remove them from the roads on Friday. The IE reported that the  police also called Muslim leaders for a meeting in each of the 92 police stations of the city on Friday. “We held a meeting with the community and religious leaders in all the 92 police stations. We have requested them to stay calm and maintain peace. We have received good cooperation from them,” said Joint Commissioner (Law and Order) Vishwas Nagre Patil reported the IE.

However the opposition did see an opportunity to attack the Shiv Sena government who it no longer considers a Hindutva ally. According to the IE report, Kirit Somaiya of the BJP said “this government is standing behind those who are supporting fanatic Islamic terrorists.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the attacks and asserted India’s support to France in the fight against terrorism. “I strongly condemn the recent terrorist attacks in France, including today’s heinous attack in Nice inside a church… India stands with France in the fight against terrorism,” he posted on social media.


The Union Ministry of External Affairs too expressed solidarity with the French government and people in a statement: “We strongly deplore the personal attacks in unacceptable language on President Emmanuel Macron in violation of the most basic standards of international discourse… We also condemn the brutal terrorist attack that took the life of a French teacher in a gruesome manner that has shocked the world. There is no justification for terrorism for any reason or under any circumstance.”

According to BBC the anti-Macron protests were also witnessed in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Lebanon, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq on Friday. The protesters called for a boycott of French products and condemned President Emmanuel Macron after his remarks that, Islam was a religion “in crisis” and defended the right of a magazine to publish cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammed.

The backlash, reported the BBC, after a suspected Islamist extremist killed a French teacher who showed the cartoons in class threatens to intensify. Macron said the teacher “was killed because Islamists want our future”, but France would “not give up our cartoons”.  On Friday in Pakistan, police fired tear gas at thousands of demonstrators marching towards the French Embassy in Islamabad stated the report, adding that protesters in Dhaka, Bangladesh, set fire to effigies of Macron and carried placards “denouncing him as an Islamophobe”.

Over 100 Indians condemn Paris beheadings, deplore outrageous statements by Muslim religious and political leaders 

Well over a hundred prominent Indians from diverse backgrounds have today issued a statement condemning the Paris beheadings and deploring the outrageous statements by Muslim religious and political leaders. Among other things the statement read: “No God, gods, goddesses, prophets or saints may be invoked to justify the killing and/or terrorising of fellow human beings”.

The full text of the statement, may be read here:

We the undersigned unequivocally and unconditionally condemn the recent killings in France by two fanatics in the name of faith.

We are deeply disturbed by the convoluted logic of some self-appointed guardians of Indian Muslims in rationalising cold-blooded murder and deplore the outrageous remarks of some heads of state.

It has become the order of the day for all religious groups to indulge in whataboutery whenever such heinous crimes are committed by those belonging to their flock. Rationalising crimes by comparing them to similar crimes committed by others is an irrational and absurd argument as two wrongs don’t make a right.

We reject any ifs and buts in the justification of heinous crimes in the name of religion, any religion.

No God, gods, goddesses, prophets or saints may be invoked to justify the killing and/or terrorising of fellow human beings.

We stand in solidarity with the ‘French Council for the Muslim Faith’ for strongly condemning the attacks and issuing an appeal calling on all Muslims in France to “cancel all celebrations of the birthday of the Prophet as a sign of mourning and solidarity with the victims and their loved ones”.


1. Abdul Aziz Lokhandwala, Industrialist, Mumbai

2. Abhilasha Kumari, Researcher

3. Ahmad Rashid Sherwani, Hyderabad

4. AJ Jawad, Advocate, mediator, Chennai

5. Akbar Shaikh, Social activist, Sholapur

6. Amar Jesani, Medico Friends Circle, Mumbai

7. Amir Rizvi, Designer, Mumbai

8. Amita Joseph, Activist

9. Amitabh Mishra, Social Development Sector, Lucknow

10. Anand Patwardhan, Documentary film maker, Mumbai

11. Anil Dharker, Editor, columnist, writer, Mumbai

12. Anil Hebbar, Social Entrepreneur, Mumbai

13. Anil K Singh, Sansad, Delhi

14. Anil Trigunayat, Ambassador (rtd)

15. Anjum Rajabali, Screenwriter, Social Activist, Mumbai

16. Anurag Chaturvedi, journalist, Delhi

17. Anvar Rajan, Social activist, Pune

18. Anwar Hussain, Corporate executive, Mumbai

19. Arshad Alam, Columnist, educationist, Delhi

20. Askari Zaidi, Corporate Communications, Delhi

21. Bilal Khan, Social Activist, Mumbai

22. Bharti Sharma, Friends of Democracy, Mumbai

23. Cedric Prakash, Priest, Ahmedabad

24. Prof Chaman Lal, Rtd Prof JNU, Delhi

25. Charul Joshi, Political activist, Mumbai

26. Chayanika Shah, Queer Feminist Researcher, Mumbai   

27. Chhaya Datar, retd professor, feminist activist, Mumbai

28. Danish Javed, Lyricist, writer, producer, Mumbai

29. Dilip D’Souza, Writer, Mumbai

30. Dilip Simeon, Historian, Delhi

31. Dolphy D’Souza, Police Reforms Watch, Mumbai

32. Fahad Ahmad, PhD Scholar, TISS, Mumbai

33. Feroz Abbas Khan, Writer-director, Mumbai

34. Feroze Mithiborwala, President, Bharat Bachao Andolan, Mumbai

35. Gauhar Raza, Anhad, Delhi

36. Gautam Mody, Trade unionist and activist

37. Ghulam Mohiuddin, Physician, PIO, New York

38. Guddi, S.L., Yusuf Meherali Centre, Mumbai

39. Hasan Ibrahim Pasha, Writer, Allahabad

40. Hasan Kamaal, Editor, columnist, poet, Mumbai

41. Hasina Khan, Bebaak Collective, Mumbai

42. Henri Tiphagne, Advocate and human rights defender, Chennai

43. Hussain Haidri, Lyricist, Mumbai

44. Hussain Indorewala, Academic, Mumbai

45. Jamsheed Rizwani, Sete, France

46. Jatin Desai, Journalist, social activist, Mumbai

47. Javed Akhtar, Poet, films, former MP, Mumbai

48. Javed Anand, Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy (IMSD), Mumbai

49. John Dayal, Writer, activist, Delhi

50. Joycia Thorat, Ecumenical Activist

51. J.S. Bandukwala, Social Activist, Vadodara

52.  Julio F Ribeiro, IPS (retired), Mumbai

53. Jyoti Punwani, Journalist, Mumbai

54. Kabir Khan, Director, Mumbai

55. Dr Kamal Chenoy, Rtd Prof JNU, Delhi

56. Kamayani Bali Mahabal

57. Dr K L Sharma, University of Rajasthan

58. Kasim Sait, Businessman, Chennai

59. Kavita Srivastava, Civil liberties & human rights activist, Jaipur

60. Kirtika Singh, Advocate, Allahabad High Court

61. Kishore Jagtap, Dalit activist, Mumbai

62. Krishnakant Chauhan, Environmentalist and Activist

63. Krishnaswamy Kumar, Rtd Prof, Coimbatore

64. Lalita Ramdas, Social activist, Raigad

65. Lara Jesani, Advocate, Bombay High Court, Mumbai

66. Admiral L. Ramdas, retd Chief of Indian Navy, Raigad

67. Mallika Sarabhai, Theatre personality, Ahmedadad

68. Masooma Ranalvi, Co-Founder, India Lead|WeSpeakOut, Delhi

69. Medha Patkar, National Alliance of People’s Movements

70. Mihir Desai, Senior advocate, Bombay High Court

71. Mohammed Arif, Social activist, Varanasi

72. Mohammed Imran, Delhi/New York

73. Dr Mridula Mukherjee, Rtd Prof JNU, Delhi

74. Mukta Srivastav, Social Activist, Thane

75. Muniza Khan, Social activist, Varanasi

76. Mushfiq Khan, Film maker, Mumbai

77. Nandan Maluste, Finance, Mumbai

78. Nandita Bhawnani, Writer, Mumbai

79. Nandita Shah, Feminist activist, Mumbai

80. Naseeruddin Shah, Actor, Mumbai

81. Nasreen Fazalbhoy, Professor (retired), Mumbai

82. Niraja Jayal, JNU, Delhi

83. Nityanand Jayaraman, writer and social activist

84. Noorhehan Safia Niyaz, Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, Mumbai

85. Pramod Mujumdar, Social Activist, Mumbai

86. Prashant Bhushan, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court, Delhi

87. Qaisar Sultana, Home-maker, Allahabad

88. Dr Ram Puniyani, Author, social activist, Mumbai

89. Dr Ramesh Dixit, Rtd Prof Lucknow University, Lucknow

90. Rohit Prajapati, Environmentalist and human rights defender, Vadodara

91. Rukmini Sen, Journalist, Mumbai

92. Sabah Khan, Activist, Mumbai

93. Sachidanand Sinha, JNU, Delhi

94. Salim Sabuwala, Social activist, Mumbai

95. Sandeep Pandey, Academic, social activist, Lucknow

96. Sandhya Gokhale, Feminist activist, Mumbai

97. Prof. Sanjay MG, National Convenor, National Alliance of People’s Movements, Thane

98. Dr Satya Mohanty, former Secretary, Govt of India

99. Shabana Azmi, Actor, former MP, Mumbai

100.  Prof. Shafaat Khan, Marathi Playwright

101.   Shameela Zaidi, HR Manager, Mumbai

102.  Shikha Sen, Documentary editor

103.  Dr Saif Mahmood, Advocate, Supreme Court, Delhi

104.  Sajal Mittra, Rtd IAS

105.  Selvyn Jussy, University of Calcutta, Kolkata

106.  Shama Zaidi, Writer, documentary film maker, Mumbai 

107.  Shabnam Hashmi, Anhad, Delhi

108.  Dr Shahnawaz, Physician, Sultanpur

109.  Sitaram Prasad Singh, Theatre artist

110.  S N Sahu, former OSD to President of India

111.  Simantini Dhuru, Educationist, Mumbai

112.  Sohail Hashmi, Writer, film maker, Delhi

113.  Subhash Gatade, New Socialist Initiative, Delhi

114.  Sucheta Mahajan, Professor JNU, Delhi

115.  Sujata Gotaskar, Feminist activist and researcher, Mumbai

116.  Sukla Sen, Peace Activist, Mumbai

117.  Sumedh Jadhav, President, Republican Panther, Mumbai

118.  Suresh Sawant, President, Samvidhan Sanvardhan Samiti

119.  Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam, Delhi

120.  Dr Sunilam, Leader farmers & workers movement, Indore 

121.  Dr. Suresh Khairnar, Social Activist, Nagpur

122.  Swara Bhaskar, Actor, Mumbai

123.   Swatija M. Paranjape, Feminist activist, Mumbai

124.  Prof. Tahir Mahmood, Legal luminary, Delhi

125.  Dr Tarannum Siddiqui, Jamia Millia Islamia, Dehi

126.  Teesta Setalvad, Citizens for Justice and Peace, Mumbai

127.  T.K. Arun, Consulting editor, The Economic Times

128.  Tushar Gandhi, Writer, activist, Mumbai

129.  Ujjwala Mhatre, Mumbai

130.  Prof Vasanthi Raman, Delhi

131.  Veena Gowda, Advocate, Mumbai

132.  Vibhuti Narain Rai, IPS (retired), Noida

133.  Vimla  Chand, Consumer advocate

134.  Vijay Krishna Acharya, Director, Mumbai

135.  Vishwas Utagi, Economist & Trade Union Leader, Mumbai

136.   Yoginder Yadav, Political Activist, academic, Delhi

137.  Dr. Zaheer Ahmed Sayeed, neuro-surgeon, Chennai

138.  Zaman Ali, Advocate

139.  Zaman Habib TV Writer-producer, Mumbai

140.  Zeenat Lakhani, Screenwriter, Mumbai

141.  Zeeshan Ayub, Actor, Mumbai



Debate: To blame or not to blame Islam for the Paris beheading?
The Beheading of a School Teacher in France: The Politics of Blasphemy
Paris beheading: The genesis of such hate crimes



Related Articles