Eyeing elections in the coming year in France, the French President Emmanuel Macron has come to the lime light these days for his blatant Islamophobic ranting, and a formal and explicit approval of making Islamophobic content public. Macron’s weaponizing the anti Islamic bigotry is for sure going to boomerang. His tenure is full of distraction of several Governmental domains amid mishandling of Covid pandemic. Economic decline, unemployment crisis, and an inconsistency in foreign policy that proved to be a nonstarter, particularly with Turkey in Mediterranean face off, Libya and now Azerbaijan have collectively brought down his popularity; and he is believed to have perceived his defeat at the end of his term. Hebdo-Charlie is now rising from the grave after more than 4 years. A history teacher was reported to be complicit in a reprehensible act of instigating Muslim students by depicting blasphemous cartoons published previously by Hebdo Charlie Magazine. Obviously he was pursuing and pushing for the accomplishment of his political motivation over the past sometime masquerading into professing history through the so called freedom of expression. Without an iota of doubt he enjoyed covert support of the law and order enforcing authorities who ignored many first information reports lodged by the Muslim students. He was killed ultimately and perhaps that was exactly what authorities wanted the Muslims in Paris to do. Regrettably Muslims fall prey quite easily to sinister designs and many of them turn as pawns of intolerance, for intolerance dictates extremism that in turn churns into violence.
Islamophobia through neocons is instrumentalized in the West for accomplishment of politically motivated goals. Once the Islamic visionary late Ahmed Deedat said to Muslims “don’t wail and scream on Islamophobic incidents. It only gives pleasure to them and they do it again and again.” True, hurte time and again, sentiments take over the control of one’s mind. Historically this bears testimony to the fact that Islamophobia had been existent in the Europe from the time immemorial and crossed all limits during the medieval era when no Muslim population existed there. But in present times let us not forget to mention that Muslims are assuming second largest population in the entire Europe and America, with Jews pushed to third place. Islam today is the only faith widely researched and intellectually examined that is forging its fastidious growth across the Europe Australia and America. Islamophobia would be a natural consequence in such an ambience. Muslims need to face it perseveringly with an eye on the future. People living in the world are not morons; they can understand when it comes to disparaging Islam why freedom of expression is raked up then only. Where is freedom of expression when it comes to Holocaust and the Christian faith and anti-Semitic ideas? Why the far rightist white supremacists rattled by the Burka clad women and beard sporting men? We all know answers to these questions. As the European thinker of all times George Bernard Shaw points towards the future of Europe he did not forget to mention Islam with it. In present day West the torch bearer of freedom and liberty, liberty in real sense is held hostage by her own champions. One fails to understand how can freedom of expression be harbored by insulting faith of others? This inevitably is inviting trouble. Walking this path one can only foster violence and xenophobia. We need to comprehend the core of this problem. Macron’s propagandizing freedom of expression in today’s France is catalyzed by politics of electoral democracy, already backfiring on the international arena. Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan criticized Macron on his drift towards fascism. Incidentally, the French President, who pretends to wage a crusade for free speech, took this reaction very ill and recalled his diplomat from Ankara in protest. Several other international reactions are building up gradually. The Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan also ridiculed the French President. He considered that Macron’s statements based on ignorance would spur more hate, Islamophobia and space for extremists. While the calls for boycotts are spreading across the Muslim World, supermarkets in Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan Palestine Syria Morocco and Iraq are already emptying their shelves from French products. The French government is upset by this movement. However, instead of adopting a conciliatory tone, it chose for arrogance. This condescending behavior will only exacerbate negative feelings against France and harm French exports in a time of global recession. While most of Muslim Governments assume silence understandably for the bilateral economic and trade reasons, civil society’s trade boycott seems to be a pragmatic approach than to giving in to violence.
While Macron’s ill-meditated policies have a boomerang effect internationally, many French observers are predicting that he will also fail domestically. The Islamophobic discourse was already tested by his predecessor Sarkozy, and it did not help him win the elections back in 2012. The September 2020, opinion poll reflected that the French population has a pessimistic view of France under the Macron presidency with 78 percent of the respondents showing dismay that France was in decline and 27 percent of them said that such a decline is irreversible.
DR MUZAFFAR SHAJEEN is Professor at SKUAST- K