A video began circulating this weekend allegedly taken at the madrassa, or Islamic school, of Jamia Hafsa in Islamabad, Pakistan, showing a schoolteacher beheading an effigy of French President Emmanuel Macron in front of students.
Muslims around the world have organized protests demanding boycotts of France and international laws against blasphemy after Macron vowed not to make cartoons that offend Muslims illegal in his country. The cartoons, particularly those published of Muhammad in satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, have once again become the center of a heated global debate between the free world and radical Islamists after a radical Muslim beheaded a schoolteacher last month for showing them to his class in a lesson on free speech.
Macron sternly condemned the beheading of the teacher, Samuel Paty, awarded him the nation’s highest honor, and vowed, “We will never give up cartoons.” He has also launched a nationwide police campaign against jihadists, shutting down radical mosques and Islamists groups and arresting those who publicly expressed approval of Paty’s beheading.
In response, thousands of Muslims have organized rallies in which, in addition to the beheading of his effigy recently, they have symbolically burned, hanged, and otherwise desecrated the French leader.
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) published a video on Friday of the symbolic beheading of Macron, allegedly at the Islamabad school. The video shows a woman, presumably a teacher, in front of a crowd of girls in hijab sitting on the floor, attentively watching the woman behead a figurine for being a “blasphemer,” according to the outlet. MEMRI translates the lyrics of the song playing over the video as, “This is the punishment of the Prophet’s slanderer. The head chopped off from the body. This is the punishment of the Prophet’s slanderer. The head chopped from the body. The makers of the cartoons. We shall crush them to dust. The makers of the cartoons. We shall crush them to dust.”
MEMRI asserts that the beheaded figure is meant to represent Macron.
Jamia Hafsa, Islamabad. Female teacher at #Deobandi seminary beheads the effigy of the "blasphemer" French President @EmmanuelMacron in front of female students, many of them children.https://t.co/qeUyAtPlAL pic.twitter.com/5DAEbB19Do
— SAMRI (@SAMRIReports) October 29, 2020
Several similar incidents have occurred at other Islamic events supporting violence against “blasphemers.” Last week, at a rally attended by an estimated 40,000 people, Bangladeshi Muslims in Dhaka burned Macron in effigy to support the beheading of Samuel Paty.
“Macron is one of the few leaders who worship Satan,” Ataur Rahman, a senior leader of the Islami Andolan Bangladesh (Islamic Movement) party, reportedly said at the event. A mob attempted to storm the French embassy in Dhaka at the event but police – and rally organizers – managed to convince them to step back before violence ensued.
On Friday, thousands of Muslims in India, whose government has vocally supported Macron, took the streets and hanged an effigy of Macron over a bridge. Police arrested 2,000 people, including a lawmaker, in multiple cities on Friday involved in Islamist violence.
Pakistan also experienced violence on Friday, when the video of the symbolic beheading surfaced. Police in Islamabad used shipping containers to protect the fortified area of the capital where the French embassy is located, but members of the mob took to climbing them, footage from the event showed. Despite Pakistan being an Islamist country whose prime minister, Imran Khan, called for the United Nations to enforce bans on blasphemy around the world in his speech to the General Assembly last month, Islamabad police used tear gas against the crowd to prevent further destruction.
Blasphemy against Islam is a crime in Pakistan; blasphemy against Muhammad in particular or desecration of the Quran are punishable by death.
In the Palestinian community of Israel, an Islamic scholar identified as Sheikh Ali Abu Ahmad declared jihad on France last week, claiming that Muslim armies would crush Paris for its insolence against their faith.
Anti-free speech protests also occurred in Syria and Iraq, the former reportedly featuring Islamic State flags. In Europe, Berlin and London also attracted outraged Muslims; the London crowd burned an image of Macron.
In an interview published this weekend with the Qatari outlet al-Jazeera, Macron asserted that anyone who wished to adhere to anti-French, repressive values will not be allowed to do so in France.
“They teach that women are not equal to men. They teach that little girls should not have the same rights as little boys. Not our values!” Macron told the publication. “I’m telling you very clearly: not our values!”
“We believe in the Enlightenment, and women have the same rights as men. It is vital. And so, I will never, never, never accept an association, even if it would be in the name of a religion, that would promote [the idea that] a little girl is not the equivalent of a little boy; she will not be given the same education, she will not be given the same opportunities — because it’s not our values,” he said. “People who think like that, let them do it somewhere else, but not on French soil.”
Macron has found little support in the Islamic world for his opposition to the beheading of a French teacher. Among the nation’s condemning Macron’s resistance to criminalizing cartoons were Pakistan and Turkey, whose leaders have both promoted global campaigns against “Islamophobia,” and regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran. Egypt, whose President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power through a coup against the Muslim Brotherhood, also issued remarks stating that freedom of speech does not include speech that is offensive to Muslims.