Friday, February 26, 2021

Macron decries Islamic separatism, defends right to blaspheme

Emmanuel Macron says freedom in France includes the freedom to believe or not to believe, which cannot be separated from the freedom of expression.

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French President Emmanuel Macron has criticised what he called “Islamic separatism” in his country and those who seek French citizenship without accepting France’s “right to commit blasphemy”, reports Associated Press.

Macron defended satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which published cartoons of Prophet Muhammad that helped inspire two French-born men to mount a deadly January 2015 attack on the paper’s newsroom.

The weekly magazine republished its controversial images as the trial began of 14 people over the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and on a kosher supermarket.

Speaking at a ceremony on Friday celebrating France’s democratic history and naturalising new citizens, the French president said: “You don’t choose one part of France. You choose France. The republic will never allow any separatist adventure.”

Freedom in France, Macron said, includes: “The freedom to believe or not to believe. This is inseparable from the freedom of expression up to the right to blasphemy.”

Commenting on the trial of the accused accomplices to the massacre, he said, “To be French is to defend the right to make people laugh, to criticise, to mock, to caricature.”

The 2015 attacks killed 17 people and marked the beginning of a wave of violence by the Islamic State armed group in Europe.

Macron’s centrist government has promised a law in the coming months against “Islamic separatism” but it is not yet clear exactly what it would police.

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