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France warns citizens as Muslim world seethes

Paris: France warned its citizens living or travelling in several Muslim-majority countries to take extra security precautions as anger surged over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.

A rift between France and Muslim nations is growing after French President Emmanuel Macron said earlier this month that Islam was in “crisis”.

From proposing stricter laws to uphold the principle of secularism to using terms like “Islamic separatism” and Islamic terror attacks”, Macron’s comments have evoked severe backlash from countries like Pakistan, Turkey, Iran among others.

France’s foreign ministry issued safety advice to French citizens in Indonesia, Bangladesh, Iraq and Mauritania, advising them to exercise caution. “They should stay away from any protests over the cartoons and avoid any public gatherings.”

Tension escalated after French teacher Samuel Paty was killed on October 16 near his school in broad daylight. He had shown caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad to his students. Since the crime, French officials were perceived as linking the killing to Islam.

While eulogizing the teacher on October 21, Macron declared that “France will not give up cartoons”.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized Macron and even questioned the mental state of his French counterpart.

As the discourse seeped to the general populace on social media, many accused France of using secularism to persecute Muslim minorities in France and #BoycottFrenchProducts trended on Twitter.

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Je suis Samuel: France rallies for beheaded teacher

Paris: Tens of thousands of people rallied in Paris and cities across France in solidarity with a teacher beheaded for showing pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

Demonstrators on the Place de la Republique held aloft posters declaring: “No to totalitarianism of thought” and “I am a teacher” in memory of murdered colleague Samuel Paty.

“You do not scare us. We are not afraid. You will not divide us. We are France!” tweeted Prime Minister Jean Castex, who joined the Paris demonstration.

Samuel Paty was murdered on his way home from the school where he taught in a suburb northwest of Paris on Oct 16 afternoon.

A photo of the teacher and a message confessing to his murder was found on the mobile phone of his killer, 18-year-old Chechen Abdullakh Anzorov, who was shot dead by police.

French police have arrested nine people over the beheading of the teacher, a judicial source said.

The attack came as a trial is in progress over the January 2015 massacre at the offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine, which had published caricatures of the prophet Mohammed that unleashed a wave of anger across the Islamic world.

The magazine republished the cartoons in the run-up to the trial in September and last month a young Pakistani man wounded two people with a meat cleaver outside its former offices.

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