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Anti-France protests: Muslims hold rallies worldwide as tensions rise


image copyrightEPA

image captionMuslims are furious about President Macron’s defence of the right to publish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed

Thousands of Muslims in countries around the world have held protests to vent their fury at France over its perceived animosity towards Islam.

Anti-French rallies erupted after Friday prayers in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Lebanon and other countries.

Protesters called for a boycott of French products and condemned President Emmanuel Macron.

He has become a target in several Muslim-majority countries for his recent comments about Islam.

Mr Macron has called Islam a religion “in crisis” and defended the right of a magazine to publish cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammed.

The backlash intensified after a suspected Islamist extremist killed a French teacher who showed the cartoons in class. Mr Macron said the teacher “was killed because Islamists want our future”, but France would “not give up our cartoons”.

Muslims saw Mr Macron’s remarks as an insult, as depictions of the Prophet Muhammad are widely regarded as taboo in Islam.

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image captionProtesters waved flags in the Lebanese capital Beirut

image copyrightEPA

image captionPlacards depicting President Macron as a “demon” were seen at protests in India

Protests against France have been going on across the Muslim world for days.

On Friday, they continued amid heightened tension, a day after another suspected Islamist attack in the French city of Nice.

In Pakistan, police fired tear gas at thousands of demonstrators marching towards the French Embassy in Islamabad. Witnesses said some protesters tried to break through police barricades.

image copyrightEPA

image captionPolice fired tear gas at protesters near the French embassy in Islamabad

image copyrightEPA

image captionPresident Macron has been accused of expressing anti-Islamic sentiments

Protesters in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, beat and set fire to effigies of Mr Macron and carried placards denouncing him as an Islamophobe.

One protest leader addressed the crowd, saying Muslims would not allow their beliefs to be ridiculed: “Doesn’t matter whether it is France, America, Russia or any other bigger power in the world, we won’t tolerate anybody making fun of our beloved Prophet.”

image copyrightEPA

image captionLarge-scale anti-France rallies have taken place in Bangladesh in recent days

image copyrightEPA

image captionSome protesters burned effigies of President Macron, the main source of their ire

Meanwhile, thousands of worshippers rallied after Friday prayers at al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, in Jerusalem’s walled Old City.

They condemned the publication of cartoons showing the Prophet in France.

“A nation whose leader is Muhammad will not be defeated,” some protesters chanted.

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