When the peoples are instrumentalized, then it is the peoples that must be addressed. While tens of thousands of people marched on Friday in Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Maghreb, burning effigies of Emmanuel Macron and calling for a boycott of French products, the president granted, for the first time since the start of his five-year term, an exclusive interview with Al-Jazeera television channel, one of the most watched in the Middle East. A difficult and “courageous” exercise for those around him, but above all necessary: “We realize that, since the Mureaux speech, there has been a great deal of distortion and manipulation of his words. ”
In extracts broadcast in Arabic by the channel, the president defends France’s positions in favor of secularism, while calling for appeasement. “I understand the feelings of Muslims about cartoons”, declares Emmanuel Macron, who wants to be an educator: “The cartoons are not a government project, but rather emanated from free and independent newspapers which are not affiliated to the government”, he explains. “I think the reactions were due to the lies and the misrepresentation, and because people understood that I am in favor of these cartoons. ”
“Thousands and thousands of death threats”
The 55-minute interview will be broadcast at 5 p.m., as a response to heads of state, dignitaries, personalities who have in recent days violently accused of “insulting Muslims” around the world, from Turkish President Erdogan to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, accusing Emmanuel Macron of “attacking Islam”. On Twitter, former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad bluntly wrote that “Muslims have the right to kill millions of French people for past massacres”. A call in good standing for jihad, which the social network will take long hours to suppress. On Friday, the lightweight mixed martial arts world champion, Russian Khabib Nurmagomedov, attacked Emmanuel Macron and his “disciples”: “May God dishonor the face of this beast and all his disciples who, under the banner of freedom of expression, offend the feelings of more than 1.5 billion faithful Muslims, ”he wrote on his Instagram account, followed by 25 million fans.
“In some countries, his photo has been printed and displayed in the streets for people to wipe their feet on”, warns a source at the Elysee. Who fears that this outbreak of hatred and incomprehension will cause other tragedies. “Since we tweeted our support for the values of free speech in Arabic, we have received thousands upon thousands of death threats. A guard at the French consulate in Saudi Arabia was attacked with a knife Thursday, and the French consulate in Alexandria was attacked. Gathered around the president on Friday, the day after the bloody attack in Nice, the defense council decided to strengthen security around French representations abroad.