Macron said his country will never accept any “separatist adventure.”
Rabat – French President Emmanuel Macron is receiving backlash over his statements backing Charlie Hebdo.
On Wednesday, the satirical weekly magazine reprinted deeply controversial caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.
Macron responded to the criticism over his Charlie Hebdo remarks on Friday, saying, “You don’t choose one part of France. You choose France… The Republic will never allow any separatist adventure.”
Denouncing what he called “Islamic Separatism,” the president said that French freedoms include the “freedom to believe or not to believe. But this is inseparable from the freedom of expression up to the right to blasphemy.”
A French citizen can “defend the right to make people laugh, to criticise, to mock, to caricature,” he added.
Macron’s statements come after Charlie Hebdo reprinted caricatures of the prophet at the start of a trial of suspects in the 2015 attacks. The legal proceedings began on Wednesday, trying 14 suspected accomplices on charges of terrorism.
The president paid tribute to the victims of the attacks: “We will all have a thought for the women and men who were cowardly shot because they drew, wrote, corrected, were there to help, to deliver.”
The 2015 attacks at the magazine’s headquarters took place on January 7, when two armed men killed 12 and injured 11.
The men identified themselves as members of ISIS.
As the trial began on Wednesday, Muslims in Taberes, in southwestern France, woke up to anti-Islam tags on the walls of a local mosque.
Islamophobia on the rise
Earlier this year, Anadolu Agency quoted the president of the National Observatory of Islamophobia as saying that Islamophobic attacks in France rose by 54% last year.
Abdellah Zekri reported 100 attacks against Muslims in the European country in 2018, against 154 in 2019.
The Islamophobic acts occurred in the “Ile de France, Rhones-Alpes, and Paca regions of the country,” the president of the observatory said.