Macron Condemns Media Excusing Islamist Terror by Alleging French ‘Racism and Islamophobia’

VALERY HACHE/AFP via Getty Images

French president Emmanuel Macron has complained that the mainstream media appear to be “legitimising” a spate of radical Islamic terror attacks against his country by claiming it is “racist and Islamophobic”.

France has suffered several high-profile terror attacks in recent months, including an attack on two people outside the former offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo with a meat cleaver, the public beheading of a schoolteacher who showed caricatures of the Islamic prophet from the magazine during a class on freedom of expression, and the murder of three Christians at a church in Nice.

“When France was attacked five years ago, every nation in the world supported us,” the French president said in comments published by the New York Times, likely referring to the massacre of multiple Charlie Hebdo staffers and others at their former offices by Islamist gunmen in 2015, and the even bloodier Bataclan terrorist attacks later that year.

“So when I see, in that context, several newspapers which I believe are from countries that share our values… when I see them legitimising this violence, and saying that the heart of the problem is that France is racist and Islamophobic, then I say the founding principles have been lost,” he lamented.

Macron, who began his career as a senior politician as a minister in the previous Socialist government, has been surprisingly robust in his defence of French secularism and the right to freedom of expression — including “blasphemous” depictions of the Islamic prophet — in recent weeks, but he has not enjoyed the same near-universal support as after the Charlie Hebdo massacre in 2015, when media outlets across the world boosted the “Je Suis Charlie” (I Am Charlie) movement.

In addition to the equivocation of the newspapers he mentioned, the influential Associated Press (AP) wire service also published an “explainer” in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks asking “Why does France incite anger in the Muslim world?” and suggesting its “unusual attachment to secularism” and “brutal colonial past” might have something to do with the recent spate of attacks.

Of course, this attempt at rationalising — tantamount to victim-blaming — would not explain why radical Islamic terrorists in France so often target Christians, and discounts the reality of the Islamic world’s own history of colonialism.

Political support has not been especially forthcoming, either, with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, of that country’s Liberal Party, more or less openly denouncing Macron’s stance on freedom of expression.

“Freedom of expression is not unlimited. For example, it’s not allowed to cry ‘fire’ in a packed cinema,” Trudeau said as France was laying its victims to rest.

“In a respectful society such as ours, everyone must be aware of the impact of our words and actions on others,” he added.

“There are communities experiencing huge discrimination in Canada today. So yes, we will always defend freedom of expression, but everyone must act respectfully toward others and not try to needlessly or arbitrarily hurt someone we share this planet and society with.”

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