Eastern Eye (UK)

Pakistan envoy summoned over remarks on French bill

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THE French foreign ministry summoned Pakistan’s envoy to protest claims by president Arif Alvi that a French bill cracking down on radical Islam stigmatise­s Muslims.

Addressing a conference on religion last Saturday (20), Alvi said: “When you see that laws are being changed in favour of a majority to isolate a minority, that is a dangerous precedent.”

Specifical­ly referring to the legislatio­n drafted after the beheading of a French teacher by an Islamist radical over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, Alvi said: “When you insult the Prophet, you insult all Muslims.

“I urge the political leadership of France not to entrench these attitudes into laws... You have to bring people together – not to stamp a religion in a certain manner and create disharmony among the people or create bias.”

Pakistan was one of several Muslim countries that saw angry anti-French protests in October over president Emmanuel Macron’s defence of the right to show cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.

The country with the secondlarg­est number of Muslims in the world after Indonesia does not have an ambassador in France.

The French foreign ministry said late on Monday (22) it had called in Pakistan’s charge d’affaires to mark “our surprise and our disapprova­l (over Alvi’s remarks), given that the bill contains no discrimina­tory element.”

“It is guided by the basic principles of freedom of religion and conscience, makes no distinctio­n between the different religions and applies therefore equally to all faiths,” the ministry said. “Pakistan must understand this and adopt a constructi­ve attitude for our bilateral relations,” it added.

The bill is dubbed the “antisepara­tism” bill.

The legislatio­n significan­tly expands the state’s powers to close religious organisati­ons and places of worship if they are found to air “theories or ideas” that “provoke hate or violence towards a person or people.”

 ??  ?? DISAPPROVA­L: There were anti-French protests in October in Pakistan over the cartoon row
DISAPPROVA­L: There were anti-French protests in October in Pakistan over the cartoon row

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