Ever since Charlie Hebdo came up with mocking caricatures of Prophet Muhammad, the anti-Islamic rhetoric has increased in France, with President Emmanuel Macron refusing to condemn the act. The Muslim world has intensively protested against Charlie Hebdo and French President for using freedom of expression to hurt the sentiments of millions of Muslims across the globe.
Since then, a number of violent attacks have taken place at different cities in France, which have been attributed to the Islamists by the main stream media. The French President has stated that the country would never bow down to terrorism and extremisms. At this juncture, one would like to ask whether Macron’s Islam problem is actually an educated stance or a case of utter discrimination?
Let’s rewind the clock back to September, 2020, when Macron seemed to be losing the grip on his position with majority of respondents in France feeling that the country was declining at a rapid pace. The French president was quick to come up with an anti-separatism bill, calling it a solution to the France’s ‘Muslim problem’, a policy that was supported by 75 per cent of the respondents.
In the meanwhile, the Charlie Hebdo controversy came up and sparked huge protests with French President refusing to condemn the act. The situation turned turtle after President Macron stated that the ‘Islam is in crisis across the globe’. Later on, several attacks took place across various cities of France and President Macron, along with mainstream media were quick to term the attackers as radical Islamic terrorists. However, it was later on revealed that the attacks in French cities of Avignon and Lyon last week were falsely reported in western media outlets. While the assailant in Avignon was from a far-right group, who even performed a Nazi Salute during the attack, the terrorist who killed a Greek Orthodox priest in Lyon apparently had a personal motive behind the act.
When these incidents were first reported, the media was quick to claim that the attackers shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is great), a slogan often attributed to the Muslim attackers. On the contrary, when the authorities finally identified the attackers, not a single media outlet aired an apology or even clarified about the misrepresented details pertaining to the incident. The information bias was clearly on display, not only in France, but across several western media outlets.
The recent controversy is one of many such incidents that have divided the French people over the years. The France’s anti-hijab law that was introduced in 2004 speaks volume about the country’s treatment of certain segments of the population. While French leaders pride themselves for upholding the freedom of speech and expression, such commandments simply raise a huge question mark over the country’s sincerity to align with its own principles. In the hindsight, France’s systemic racism is a fact on ground that may be denied throughout the year, but is often visible during the elections.