Indonesian groups demand political condemnation, threaten protests over French President Macron’s critique of Islam

President Emmanuel Macron of France addresses the General Assembly’s annual general debate in 2017. Photo: UN / Cia Pak
President Emmanuel Macron of France addresses the General Assembly’s annual general debate in 2017. Photo: UN / Cia Pak

Islamic groups in Indonesia are calling for the government to publicly condemn French President Emmanuel Macron after the latter’s controversial statement unleashed a backlash from Muslims worldwide.

In early October, Macron unveiled a plan to defend France’s secular values against Islamic radicalism, saying that the religion is “in crisis” across the world. The comment came as the French government prepares a bill to officially separate religion and state.

The comment deepened Islamophobic sentiment in France, particularly after last week’s gruesome murder of Samuel Paty, a French teacher who was beheaded by a Muslim refugee after the former showed caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in a lesson on freedom of expression to his students. Any depiction of Muhammad is considered blasphemous in Islam.

Macron said the murder was a “typical Islamist terror attack” and the caricature of Muhammad was projected onto French government buildings in honor of Paty last week. These, and the Islam in crisis comment, prompted Islamic leaders worldwide, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to strongly condemn Macron.

While the government of Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim population in the world, has yet to comment on Macron’s controversies, its influential Islamic groups are calling for it to condemn the French president.

Those groups include the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), the country’s top clerical body, and the massive Islamic organization Muhammadiyah. At this point, these groups are calling for the government to demand clarification from Macron regarding his critique of Islam, but have not called for a boycott or the severing of political ties with France.

On the other hand, Persaudaraan Alumni 212 (PA 212), an umbrella group consisting of some of the country’s most notorious hardline Islamist organizations such as the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), said they plan to organize a protest at the French embassy in Jakarta.

“Right now, the most spontaneous response would be to boycott French products and demand stern action from the French ambassador to Indonesia,” PA 212 spokesman Novel Bamukmin said yesterday 

Novel added that PA 212 would not do anything to prevent any retaliation by Muslims against French nationals in Indonesia.

PA 212 has not revealed any specific details about a protest at the French embassy yet.

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