Barely a week after an Islamist extremist beheaded a French teacher named Samuel Paty for showing cartoons of Prophet Mohammad in freedom of expression class to his students, the French government led by President Emmanuel Macron has shown tremendous daring in taking on the Islamic extremists. On Wednesday, amidst heavy security, the locals of Montpellier projected large size images of Charlie Hebdo cartoons and commemoration photos of Samuel Paty on a local government building as a symbolic and moving tribute to the deceased teacher.
Charlie Hebdo cartoons, including one of Mohammed, projected onto Montpellier government building. pic.twitter.com/pnhU0EXTsc
— Chris Tomlinson (@TomlinsonCJ) October 21, 2020
Carole Delga, the mayor said that the decision to project the image was to state “there must be no weakness in the face of the enemies of democracy, facing those who transform religion into a weapon of war… those who intend to destroy the Republic.”
L’@Occitanie s'associe à l’hommage de la Nation à #SamuelPaty.
J'ai décidé que soient projetées demain sur les façades des hôtels de Région, à #Toulouse & #Montpellier, les caricatures des dessinateurs de Charlie Hebdo, dont certains tués lors de l'attentat terroriste du 7/01/15.
— Carole Delga (@CaroleDelga) October 20, 2020
Even at the memorial service at The Sorbonne, Emmanuel Macron vowed that France ‘will not give up cartoons’. He also added that Paty was killed by ‘cowards’ for representing the secular, democratic values of the French Republic. “He was killed precisely because he incarnated the Republic”, Macron said. “He was killed because the Islamists want our future. They know that with quiet heroes like him, they will never have it.”
Nous continuerons, professeur.
Nous continuerons ce combat pour la liberté, ce combat pour défendre la République dont vous êtes devenu le visage. pic.twitter.com/0gRe9WIVjJ
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) October 21, 2020
Taking to Twitter, Macron also shared an image of Paty to express his solidarity with the 47-year old terror-victim.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) October 21, 2020
The service was attended by the teacher’s family and some 400 guests. The coffin was brought into the ceremony on the shoulders of a guard of honour and to the sound of the song “One” by the rock group U2. On top of the casket was Paty’s Legion d’Honneur, France’s highest honour. It was posthumously awarded to Paty.
The move has sent a strong message across the European continent and to the world. The radical Islamists believe that they can get away with their acts of terrorism. Macron has given the message that ‘drawing cartoons’ or ‘Blasphemy’ might be a criminal offence in the Muslim world but in France, it comes under the ambit of ‘Freedom of speech ‘ and no fanatic or extremists of religion can encroach upon it.
This is how you disincentivise terrorism
• double down on what they terrorised you for
• jail fatwa givers+collaborators
• shut down & seize their institutions
What you do NOT do:
• give into their demands
• mollycoddle their leaders
• subsidise their institutions https://t.co/X4YZFF5oaf
— Abhijit Iyer-Mitra (@Iyervval) October 21, 2020
Reported by TFI earlier, Macron has steadily shifted to the right side of the political spectrum in his political career in the last two-three years. Macron of 2017 would have let this incident slide by idly in the garb of liberalism but in 2020, a revamped Macron 2.0 is taking no prisoners by going toe-to-toe with the extremists.
Read: What turned Macron from a left-wing politician to a supremely right-wing leader?
Macron’s distaste for political Islam is not without reason. There is a growing concern within the French public about the influence of Islamist radicals. Islam is the fastest-growing major religion in Europe, primarily due to immigration and higher fertility rates among Muslims. With the middle east and the African continent in a constant state of turmoil, immigrants from Muslim countries like Syria and Libya have started to appear in numbers in Western Europe, especially in Germany, France, and Belgium.
However, in countries like France and Sweden, the Muslim share of the population is exorbitantly higher. And according to Pew Research Center projections, in the coming decades, the Muslim share of the continent’s population is expected to grow – and could more than double. By 2030, people of Muslim faith or origin are predicted to form about 8% of the population of Europe.
In early October, Macron had unveiled a plan to defend France’s secular values against radical Islam, announcing stricter oversight of schooling and better control over foreign funding of mosques. Macron had even described Islam as a religion “in crisis” worldwide and insisted that “no concessions” would be made in a new drive to eradicate extremist religious teaching in schools and mosques.
In doing so, he had sent a stern message to the rest of Europe that tooting the horn of liberalism was not going to pay any dividends as radical Islamists continue their onslaught in the continent.
Be it the ghastly November 2015 Paris terror attacks which killed 130 people or the Nice truck attack in 2016 or the recent knife attack by a man named Ali Hassan who stabbed two employees of TV production agency Premieres Lignes—Macron has done a complete volte-face when it comes to tackling the Islamist extremists.
The French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo had also got approval from Macron for republishing the controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad to mark the start of a trial of suspected accomplices of terrorist gunmen who attacked its offices in January 2015.
Macron has sown his mettle as a leader hell-bent on nipping the menace of Islamic terrorism by taking on Turkey. Ankara’s ambitions in the Eastern Mediterranean to reassert its dominance on Greece and the Balkan region has been met with vociferous counteraction from Macron. Even in Libya, where Erdogan is looking to consolidate his GNA, France has been steadily providing his support to the LNA forces.
Emmanuel Macron minced no words when it came to the current delicate situation in the Caucasus. As per Macron, the situation in the region is a creation of Turkey, because of its total support to Azerbaijan, due to which any possibility of an early armistice is all but over. Here too we have seen a strong leader not afraid to speak out his mind, while the rest of Europe and its leaders continue to observe a stoic silence.
Emmanuel Macron has emerged as the tallest leader in Europe and if the rest of the continent doesn’t rise to the threat of Islamic Terrorism then there might be more Samuel Paty’s in the future. Macron has shown the spine, its time that other world-leaders follow the suit.
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