Alvi, addressing a conference on religion on Saturday, said: ‘You have to bring people together, not stamp a religion in a certain way and create disagreement’
File image of Pakistani President Arif Alvi. AP
Paris: The French foreign ministry summoned the envoy from Pakistan to protest against claims by President Arif Alvi that a French bill cracking down on radical Islam stigmatized Muslims.
Addressing a conference on religion on Saturday, Alvi said: “When you see laws are changed in favor of a majority to isolate a minority, it is a dangerous precedent.”
Referring specifically to legislation drafted after a French teacher was beheaded by a radical Islamist for caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, Alvi said: “When you insult the Prophet, you insult all Muslims.
“I urge the political leaders of France not to root these attitudes in laws … We must bring people together, not stamp a religion in a certain way and create disagreement among the people or create prejudice. “
Pakistan was one of many Muslim countries that saw angry anti-French protests in October over President Emmanuel Macron’s defense of the right to show cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.
The country with the second highest number of Muslims in the world after Indonesia does not have an ambassador in France.
The French foreign ministry said Monday evening that it had called the Pakistani charge d’affaires to mark “our surprise and our disapproval (on Alvi’s remarks), given that the bill does not contain any discriminatory element. “.
“It is guided by the basic principles of freedom of religion and conscience, does not distinguish between different religions and therefore applies equally to all religions,” the ministry said.
“Pakistan must understand this and adopt a constructive attitude towards our bilateral relations,” he added.
The bill passed by the lower house of the French parliament last week is dubbed the “anti-separatism” bill in reference to Macron’s claim that Islamists are closing themselves off on French society by refusing to embrace French society. secularism, gender equality and other French values.
The legislation greatly expands the state’s powers to shut down religious organizations and places of worship if they are found to be spreading “theories or ideas” that “cause hatred or violence against a person or person. people”.
It also creates a new crime of “separatism”, described as threatening an official in order to obtain “a total or partial exemption or a different application of the rules”, punishable by five years in prison.
The Pakistani government has been particularly outspoken in its condemnation of Macron’s crackdown on radical Islam, which follows a wave of attacks that have killed more than 250 people.
In October, Prime Minister Imran Khan accused Macron on Sunday of “attacking Islam” and choosing “to encourage Islamophobia” for defending the right to publish cartoons of Mohammed.
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