JAKARTA – Indonesia accused French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday of disrespecting Islam for his defense of the Prophet Muhammad cartoons, the day after he condemned an extremist attack in the French city of Nice.
“(Macron’s) statements have offended some 2 billion Muslims in the world and have caused division between the world’s faiths,” the Foreign Ministry of Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, said in a statement. “Freedom of expression should not be exercised in a way that tarnishes the honor, sanctity and sacredness of religious values and symbols.”
The official condemnation comes a day after the attack on a Nice church by a Tunisian who killed three people with a knife, an event that the Indonesian authorities condemned, expressing their condolences to the victims and their families.
Indonesia joins other countries such as Iran and Bangladesh in criticizing the French president, who last week said France “will not renounce cartoons” of Muhammad and will defend secularism.
Macron made the remarks after a young Chechen extremist beheaded a French history teacher at a school on the outskirts of Paris on Oct. 16 for showing cartoons of Muhammad published by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the target of an extremist attack in 2015.
Muslim groups called for a protest Friday at the French Embassy in Jakarta, but delayed it until Monday, and have also planned demonstrations against Macron in the city of Medan, on the island of Sumatra.
In Malaysia, former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad published controversial comments Thursday on the controversy of Islam and France that the social network Twitter withdrew hours later for contravening its rules against violence and hate speech.
The nonagenarian ex-president, who said that “as a Muslim he does not approve of murder” also said in a long thread of messages that “Muslim people have the right to be angry and kill millions of French people for the massacres committed by France in the past.”