France summons Pakistan's envoy to protest President Alvi's remarks on new 'anti-separatism' legislation

Published February 23, 2021
President Dr Arif Alvi on Saturday urged the political leadership of France not to entrench the discriminatory attitudes against Muslim into laws. — Vice News screengrab/ File
President Dr Arif Alvi on Saturday urged the political leadership of France not to entrench the discriminatory attitudes against Muslim into laws. — Vice News screengrab/ File

The French foreign ministry has summoned Pakistan's envoy to protest remarks by President Arif Alvi that a French bill cracking down on 'radical Islam' stigmatises Muslims.

Addressing a conference on religion on Saturday, Alvi said: “When you see that laws are being changed in favour of a majority to isolate a minority, that is a dangerous precedent.”

Specifically referring to the legislation drafted after the beheading of a French teacher by an Islamist radical over caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Alvi said: “When you insult the Prophet, you insult all Muslims.

“I urge the political leadership of France not to entrench these attitudes into laws ... You have to bring people together — not to stamp a religion in a certain manner and create disharmony among the people or create bias.”

Pakistan was one of several Muslim countries that saw angry anti-French protests in October over President Emmanuel Macron's defence of the right to show cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammad.

Islamabad does not have an ambassador in France.

The French foreign ministry said late Monday it had called in Pakistan's charge d'affaires to mark “our surprise and our disapproval [over Alvi's remarks], given that the bill contains no discriminatory element”.

'Constructive attitude'

“It is guided by the basic principles of freedom of religion and conscience, makes no distinction between the different religions and applies therefore equally to all faiths,” the ministry said.

“Pakistan must understand this and adopt a constructive attitude for our bilateral relations,” it added.

The bill adopted 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 from French society by refusing to embrace secularism, gender equality and other French values.

The legislation significantly expands the state's powers to close religious organisations and places of worship if they are found to air “theories or ideas” that “provoke hate or violence towards a person or people”.

It also creates a new crime of “separatism” — described as threatening a public servant in order to gain “a total or partial exemption or different application of the rules” — that is punishable by up to five years in prison.

Prime Minister Imran Khan in October accused Macron of “attacking Islam” and choosing to “encourage Islamophobia” for defending the right to publish blasphemous cartoons.

Opinion

Sub judice rule
18 Sep 2021

Sub judice rule

It is time this objection, sub judice, is laid to rest.
The Black Caps folly
Updated 18 Sep 2021

The Black Caps folly

There is so much wrong — and worrying — about the entire sorry episode of New Zealand backing out of Pakistan tour.
CT NAP revisited
Updated 18 Sep 2021

CT NAP revisited

A policy of appeasement towards extremists has undermined the state’s writ.
Pathways for reform
Updated 17 Sep 2021

Pathways for reform

Even now the government has said they are listening, but they have not said how they are listening.

Editorial

Blinken’s remarks
Updated 18 Sep 2021

Blinken’s remarks

The US establishment cannot scapegoat Pakistan for two decades of bad policy in Afghanistan.
18 Sep 2021

Worrying survey

THE findings of the Labour Force Survey 2018-19 indicate that some important headline trends have already taken or...
18 Sep 2021

Special needs

THE fact that only 3,653 children with special needs, out of some 300,000 in Sindh, are registered with the...
TTP amnesty?
Updated 17 Sep 2021

TTP amnesty?

An amnesty should be for some individuals, not the entire outfit.
17 Sep 2021

Media regulation

THE needless controversy over media regulation may finally be heading for a resolution. In a meeting with ...
17 Sep 2021

Refusing audit

THE continuous resistance put up by several public-sector organisations to submitting their accounts for audit by ...