Malaysia condemns Charlie Hebdo cartoons, sends book on Prophet Muhammad to French ambassador

Hishammuddin Hussein at a September event, at left, and Zulkifli Al-Bakri in his office earlier this week, at right. Photos: Hishammuddin Hussein, Zulkifli Al-Bakri/Facebook
Hishammuddin Hussein at a September event, at left, and Zulkifli Al-Bakri in his office earlier this week, at right. Photos: Hishammuddin Hussein, Zulkifli Al-Bakri/Facebook

Two of Malaysia’s leaders have responded to France’s defense in regards to the caricaturing of Islamic prophet Muhammad by calling out hostilities in that county and sending a book about the Muslim messenger. 

Foreign Affairs Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, 59, released a statement today condemning the republication of cartoons depicting the prophet in the Charlie Hebdo satire magazine as “blasphemous,” while Religious Affairs Minister Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri, 51, said The Sublime Qualities of the Prophet Muhammad book would be delivered to French Ambassador Frédéric Laplanche in Malaysia by today to educate the latter on the Islamic figure. 

Both reactions were in response to French President Emmanuel Macron defending the controversial cartoons in the name of freedom of speech, after a history teacher who displayed them in class was beheaded in France. 

“Malaysia is gravely concerned over the growing hostilities towards Muslims,” Hishammuddin said in this morning’s statement. “We strongly condemn any inflammatory rhetoric and provocative acts that seek to defame the religion of Islam as the world has recently witnessed in the forms of populist speeches and publication of blasphemous caricatures depicting the Holy Prophet Muhammad.”

Hishammuddin added that Malaysia would continue to promote mutual respect and prevent extremism among religious believers on an international level.

Zulkifli also wrote an open letter to Laplanche saying that Muslims in Malaysia would not retaliate because of the cartoons. He said that the book would help to educate France on the Islamic messenger’s ways and mannerisms.

“It is hard to believe in this modern world, some of us still does even have an acquaintance on the importance of living with peaceful coexistence,” Zulkifli wrote.“We as Muslims will not avenge the provocative cartoon the same way or express any discourtesy to the public,” he added. 

Macron last week defended the controversial cartoons, which was republished in the Charlie Hebdo magazine last month as trial began over the 2015 attack of its Paris headquarters. The exact same illustrations had led to a deadly shooting that year which killed 12 people. The magazine had published 12 cartoons, one of which showed a figure wearing a bomb on the head instead of a turban.  

Weeks after the magazine released the images again, French history teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded for displaying them in his class. Local police have since arrested an unnamed 18-year-old suspect. 

“We will not give up cartoons,” Macron was quoted as saying. “He (Samuel Paty) was killed because Islamists want our future. They will never have it. We will continue, teacher. We will defend the freedom that you taught so well.” 

Macron’s statement led to an outcry in other countries such as India, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Bangladesh. Some are also boycotting French-made products. 

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