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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 27 — Freedom of speech is an essential value of Islam and the Muslim world does not need any more lectures about its significance, least of all from those who suffer from Islamophobia, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said today.
The Malaysian Opposition leader is the latest Muslim leader to censure French president Emmanuel Macron for his October 2 speech claiming Islam in crisis worldwide while defending France’s secularism and push for the removal of religious influences from education and its public sector.
“Monsieur Macron needs to be aware that freedom of speech is an essential value of Islam,” Anwar said in a strongly-worded statement.
He said Macron’s defence of “laïcité” — French for secularism — by claiming that Islam is in crisis globally is “offensive” and “unreasonable” because it tars an entire religion and its followers for the “evils” committed by a minority.
He said that in arguing for secularism, Macron had resorted to demonising and dehumanising Islam rather than engage in discussion, pointing out the dangers of such sweeping misrepresentations lead to a cycle of violence.
“No society, ideology or religion is immune from spawning single minded brutality and plunging into barbarism.
“The Muslim World does not need lectures any more than it can tolerate libellous smears and Islamophobic rhetoric from the French President,” Anwar added.
He urged Macron to take responsibility for his “rabblerousing smears” against Islam, pointing to the October 6 killing of French teacher Samuel Paty after the latter showed some students in class caricatures of Prophet Muhammad published by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Anwar acknowledged that Macron is not alone in his skewed view of linking Islam to terrorism even as he said Muslims worldwide too need “to recover and reconnect with a higher vision of Islam”.
However, he said making slurs “does nothing to advance open debate, mutual understanding and common cause against the evil of terrorism”.
The secularism and Islam debate in France has deepened tensions domestically. International relations with some Muslim countries have also been affected.
France recalled its ambassador to Turkey after Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested Macron undergo “mental checks” for his thoughts about Islam and its followers.