Faced with the anger that is mounting in the Muslim world against France, Emmanuel Macron assured, in an interview with the Al-Jazeera channel to be broadcast on Saturday, to understand that Muslims can be "shocked" by the cartoons of Muhammad but that they did not justify violence.
To call for appeasement, the Head of State chose the Qatar television channel, much watched in the Middle East and the Maghreb, which was to broadcast this long 55-minute interview dubbed in Arabic at 5:00 p.m. (4:00 p.m. GMT) .
The small Gulf emirate is one of the first countries where calls to demonstrate against France, and its president in particular, were launched ten days ago.
This mobilization, which has since grown without becoming very important, aims to protest against comments made by Emmanuel Macron on October 22, during the national tribute to Samuel Paty, the history professor beheaded by a jihadist for having shown caricatures of Mohamet published by Charlie Hebdo.
In the name of "freedom" and "secularism", "we will not give up caricatures, drawings, even if others are retreating", declared the President of the Republic.
"I understand that one can be shocked by cartoons, but I will never accept that one can justify violence. Our freedoms, our rights, I consider that it is our vocation to protect them", affirms the chief of the state in an excerpt from the interview with Al-Jazeera.
This interview is broadcast two days after a third jihadist attack in a few weeks in France: after the beheading of Samuel Paty on October 16, a 21-year-old Tunisian killed on Thursday, with a knife, three people in a church in Nice, where Emmanuel Macron quickly surrendered the same day.
Prime Minister Jean Castex is on Saturday afternoon at Rouen Cathedral and Saint-Etienne du Rouvray, bereaved in 2016, by the assassination of Father Hamel, to express his support for the Catholic community.
- "Untruths" -
Before the interview was broadcast, his entourage explained that Emmanuel Macron was seeking to "explain his vision in a peaceful manner" and to "demonstrate that" his words on the fight against separatism are distorted and those on caricatures are often caricatured ".
It is a question of "countering the untruths, rather than letting them prosper and of re-explaining the foundations of the French republican model", specifies this source.
In the interview, the president thus underlines that these cartoons were not published on the initiative of the government but by free and independent newspapers.
He explains that the state is the guarantor of freedom of expression, one of the pillars of republican principles in France.
His commitment to defend the right to publish cartoons was overwhelmingly approved in the country, in particular by all political groups.
But it has sparked a flood of criticism in many Muslim-majority countries, where calls to boycott French products and to demonstrate have been launched.
Islam, in its strict interpretation, prohibits any representation of Muhammad.
On Friday, tens of thousands of people demonstrated again in Bangladesh, Pakistan and, to a lesser extent, the Middle East, the Maghreb and Mali.
“There is no god but God, Macron is the enemy of God!”, “Mohammed, your nation will not give in!” Chanted thousands of Palestinians who took to the streets in Jerusalem.
Among the most critical leaders is Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose relations have been very strained with his French counterpart for months, and who has promised to react after the publication of a Charlie Hebdo cartoon representing him in his underwear, beer in hand, and lifting the dress of a veiled woman.
Emmanuel Macron received the support of other leaders of the European Union who called Thursday "for dialogue between communities and religions".
At the same time, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended freedom of expression, while believing that it was "not without limits" and should not "arbitrarily and needlessly hurt" certain communities.
Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian also sent "a message of peace" to the Muslim world.
He called on French nationals living abroad to be cautious, saying the threat to French interests was "everywhere".
© 2020 AFP