French embassy official summoned to Wisma Putra

PUTRAJAYA: Wisma Putra has summoned a senior official from the French Embassy in Kuala Lumpur to express Malaysia’s concern over the “growing hostility” against Islam, such as the publication of caricatures depicting Prophet Muhammad.

In a statement, Wisma Putra said it had summoned the chargés d’affaires of the French Embassy in Kuala Lumpur as Malaysia sought to express concerns over the “growing hostilities, hate speech and defamation of Islam”.

“During the meeting, the ministry reiterated Malaysia’s position to strongly condemn any inflammatory rhetoric and provocative acts that seek to defame Islam as the world has recently witnessed in the forms of populist speeches and publication of profane caricatures depicting the Holy Prophet Muhammad, ” it added.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (pic) said the country “strongly condemns” inflammatory rhetoric and provocative acts that defame Islam.

“Malaysia is committed to upholding freedom of speech and expression as fundamental human rights for as long as these rights are exercised with respect and responsibility in order to not infringe or violate the rights of others.

“In this context, to denigrate and tarnish Islam’s Holy Prophet and to associate Islam with terrorism are certainly beyond the scope of such rights.

“Such an act is provocative and disrespectful towards Islam and more than two billion Muslims all over the world, ” he said yesterday.

Hishammuddin said as a democratic and moderate Islamic country with a multiethnic and multireligious society, Malaysia constantly promotes peaceful co-existence.

“Malaysia will continue to maintain harmonious relations, not only among people of different faith and convictions, but also in the context of the diverse global community, ” he said.

Hishammuddin’s statement comes amid a backlash across the Islamic world over French President Emmanuel Macron’s public remarks defending the right to

publish caricatures of Prophet Muhammad, which are considered blasphemous in Islam.

Macron’s remarks were made at a memorial event for secondary school teacher Samuel Paty, who was beheaded allegedly in response to showing his students caricatures of Prophet Muhammad as part of a lesson on freedom of expression.

Following the publication of the caricatures by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in 2015,17 people were killed in Paris, including 11 staff members of the magazine.

Meanwhile, Perikatan Nasional strongly condemned Macron’s remarks attacking Islam, Prophet Muhammad and the Muslim community.

Its information chief Datuk Seri Azmin Ali said the inflammatory and disparaging remarks were absolutely unacceptable and should be denounced by all right-thinking people regardless of nationality or religion.

The French embassy in Malaysia said France did not favour or stigmatise any religion and guaranteed their peaceful co-existence within the laws and principles of the republic.

In a statement, the embassy said Macron did not target the Muslim community in France at all, but only “radical Islamism that should be isolated and fought”.

“The President clearly indicated that he would be intransigent concerning any generalisation, distinguishing the vast majority of French citizens of Muslim faith from the militant and separatist minority who are hostile to the values of the republic, and who are moreover a burden for the former, ” it said yesterday.

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