Blasphemy: Muslims protest across Asia against France

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 France stepped up security nationwide on Friday to guard against new attacks following the fatal stabbings at a church in Nice, while Muslims in other countries protested in the streets over French slights to Holy Prophet Mohammad (SAW).

In Pakistan, Bangladesh and Palestinian territories, tens of thousands of Muslims staged anti-French protests after Friday prayers.

In Pakistan, police briefly fired tear gas at protesters who broke through security blockades in Islamabad in a failed attempt to demonstrate at the French Embassy against the printing in France of disrespectful images depicting the Prophet Mohammad.

In Bangladesh, marchers in the capital Dhaka chanted “Boycott French products” and carried banners calling Macron “the world’s biggest terrorist”. Some burned effigies of Macron.

“Macron is leading Islamophobia,” said Dhaka demonstrator Akramul Haq. “The Muslim world will not let this go in vain. We’ll rise and stand in solidarity against him.”

Protests also took place in India, Lebanon and Somalia.

France Security Alert

President Emmanuel Macron deployed thousands of soldiers to protect sites such as places of worship and schools, and France’s security alert was at its highest level in response to the second deadly knife attack in its cities in two weeks.

Police were holding a 21-year-old Tunisian migrant, named as Brahim al-Aouissaoui, over the attack in which a man shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is the Greatest) decapitated a woman and killed two other people in Notre Dame Basilica in Nice on Thursday in an apparent revenge attack.

The attack took place at a time of swelling anger among many Muslims across the globe over the issue of French cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad which they deem insulting and blasphemous.

It occurred about two weeks after Samuel Paty, a school teacher in a Paris suburb, was beheaded by an 18-year-old Chechen who was apparently angered by the teacher showing such disgraceful cartoons in a civics class.

France, home to Europe’s largest Muslim community and hit by a string of militant attacks in recent years primarily because of its anti-Muslim policies, has defended the right to publish such cartoons.

Macron has insisted France will not compromise on its basic freedoms of belief and expression, despite calls by Muslim leaders to stop spreading hate and Islamophobia in the name of freedom of expression.