France is to ban a demonstration later this week in protest against a movie deemed offensive to Islam’s holiest figure, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Wednesday that there is “no reason why we should let conflicts which do not concern France come to our country.”
Despite appeals for calm by French Muslim leaders, protest rallies are expected to take place in several French cities next Saturday. Ayrault, however, only mentioned banning the one in Paris.
On Sunday, France's Interior Minister Manuel Valls ordered a ban on any further demonstrations against the anti-Islam film made in the United States.
The minister went on to say that the government would fight more anti-US protests with “the greatest firmness”.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Adnan Rashid, a historian and political commentator, from London, to further discuss the issue.
The video offers the opinions of two additional guests: Muhammad al-Asi, the Imam of Washington DC Islamic Center; and Stephen Lendman, a writer and radio host from Chicago. What follows is a rough transcription of the interview with Rashid.
Let me get your reaction on what the French premier has said, Jean-Marc Ayrault, “whoever feels offended by the new cartoons on Muhammad, published by the satiric weekly Charlie Hebdo
, may file an appeal to a court. But we must remember that France is a country where the freedom of expression is guaranteed including freedom of caricature.”
This is really, really contradictory in itself. The statement he made cannot be accepted because if you look at recent French history, you’ll come to realize that France has banned freedom of expression and freedom of religion as we recently realized that the French banned hijab, banned the burka.
The burqa was worn by some of the native French women, and hardly even 0.1 percent of the French population was willing to wear the burqa. But then they came out and banned this particular freedom of expression or freedom of religion. What about these freedoms which the French government is kind of putting restrictions on?
The point is the French government in particular has to realize that their hypocrisy and their double standards have been exposed by publishing or by allowing to publish these cartoons.
In fact, what is the purpose of publishing these cartoons in this environment when the entire Muslim world is in eruption? The whole Muslim world, the population is going crazy due to these attacks on Islam. These attacks have to stop.
This is very, very irresponsible behavior on the part of the French government in particular.
I don’t believe the French people want all of this to happen. I don’t believe the American people are behind the policies of the American government. I don’t even believe the British population wants this to happen.
The people at large are not responsible for the acts of a few thugs running around trying to cause World War III. These are a bunch of people, a small group of people controlling the French policy, the British policy and the American policy.
These people are happy when a war is caused. In fact, I’m of the opinion that they will be successful.
The Muslim masses have to realize that they have to protest in a peaceful manner and we have to bring about an intelligent response to all these attacks on Islam.
The Arab governments, the Muslim governments at large in the Middle East and other regions, they have to get together and they have to send out a politically united response.
The Arab League has to come out and tell the French and the Americans that enough is enough; we’re not going to tolerate any of these attacks on our religion anymore.
If it comes down to making the fuel or the oil expensive, do it by all means. We have the economic strength on our hands, why don’t we use it?
Why don’t we tell the Americans or the French that if you don’t stop your people or some people, a bunch of thugs and a bunch of warmongers, from insulting Islam, then we will take our own measures? -And this may cause some kind of rift between us.
In order to stop all these attacks on Islam, the Arab governments in particular have to come forward and they have to send a very strong message to the Western governments in particular, not the people.
The people are not responsible. I don’t believe the people even know what’s happening in these circles. It is a small group of people who are trying to cause this rift between the east and the west, and they have to be stopped at all cost.
We talk about backfiring on the United States, domestically, if people come out and protest. They’re going to have a problem on their hands. The war on terrorism is going to be taken on their soil. Do you see that happening as a consequence?
I don’t think that’s going to happen in the US, internally.
But globally, there is more hatred against the US and the French and whoever is going to publish more cartoons or films.
The Western governments have to be more sensible. They have to learn that the Muslim masses are never going to accept this. Muslims love the Prophet [PBUH] more than their children, their parents and all of mankind put together. This is part of our belief; it’s not going to change.
Their policies, their insults to the Prophet [PBUH], making films and publishing cartoons are not going to change the fact.
The fact of the matter is that the Prophet of Islam, Prophet Muhammad [PBUH], is held to be a true prophet of God by two billion people on the face of the earth. That fact is not going to change.
You simply cannot destroy two billion people on the face of the earth. These people are a reality. They are going to last. They are going to stay.
Continuing to insult the Prophet [PBUH] who is held dear by two billion people on the face of the earth is not sensible in any way. The US and the imperial policy and those who have joined the US bandwagon are going to face troubles globally -- not necessarily internally, I don’t see that happening.
But globally, they will see a backlash even if they invade countries in the future. People will know that the US, the government in particular, is the enemy because they insult the Prophet [PBUH], and they will never accept the US hegemony in any of these respective regions.