Insulting Muslims for ‘abhorrent crimes of such extremists is an opportunistic abuse of freedom of speech’, Iranian FM Zarif says.
Iran has accused France of fuelling “extremism” after President Emmanuel Macron defended the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.
“Muslims are the primary victims of the ‘cult of hatred’ – empowered by colonial regimes & exported by their own clients,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted.
“Insulting 1.9B Muslims – & their sanctities – for the abhorrent crimes of such extremists is an opportunistic abuse of freedom of speech. It only fuels extremism,” he said.
Muslims are the primary victims of the “cult of hatred”—empowered by colonial regimes & exported by their own clients.
Insulting 1.9B Muslims—& their sanctities—for the abhorrent crimes of such extremists is an opportunistic abuse of freedom of speech.
It only fuels extremism.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) October 26, 2020
It follows statements Macron made after a Chechen teenager murdered a French teacher on October 16.
Macron said history teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded for showing caricatures of the prophet to pupils “because Islamists want our future”.
On Sunday, Macron said in a tweet: “We will not give in, ever.”
“We do not accept hate speech and defend reasonable debate,” the French leader added.
Macron has declared war on “Islamist separatism”, which he said is taking over some Muslim communities in France.
Boycotts of French goods are under way in supermarkets in Qatar and Kuwait.
Iran’s religious leaders have not called for a boycott of products from France. But several Iranian officials and politicians have condemned Macron for “Islamophobia”, according to Iranian state media.
Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, said Macron’s “irrational behaviour” displayed his “crudeness in politics”.
Shamkhani tweeted Macron’s comments showed “his lack of experience in politics, otherwise he would not have dared insult Islam”.
He advised the French leader to “read more history” and not rely on the “support of a declining American and deteriorating” Israel.
Parliament speaker Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf slammed France’s “foolish enmity” with the Prophet Mohammed, and said his sayings and “light cannot be put out with such blind, futile and anti-human acts”.
Ali Akbar Velayati, adviser to Iran’s supreme leader on foreign policy, said the cartoon should not have been reprinted following “global condemnation” of France’s Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine.
“We should have seen … the obscene magazine insulting the Prophet prevented from printing, but implementing double standards caused this heretical and anti-religious thinking to also manifest itself in the country’s education system,” he said in a statement.
Macron’s comments triggered protests in some Muslim-majority countries with people burning pictures of him in Syria and setting fire to French flags in Libya.