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.
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.
Quelle que soit votre religion, croyant ou non, nous devons dans ces moments nous unir. Ne rien céder à l’esprit de division.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) October 29, 2020
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.
I strongly condemn the recent terrorist attacks in France, including today’s heinous attack in Nice inside a church. Our deepest and heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and the people of France. India stands with France in the fight against terrorism.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 29, 2020
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