In social networks of the Middle East countries call to boycott France and French goods are spread. The initiative is accompanied by two hashtags: #BoycottFranceProducts and #BoycottFrance. President Emmanuel Macron’s statements that France will not give up the freedom of speech, including the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, were the reason for residents’ discontent in the region, RFI reported today, October 26.
In the Libyan capital of Tripoli, small groups of protesters burned and trampled Makron’s portraits and French flags. In Doha, the capital of Qatar, all French products disappeared from the menu of the French restaurant Le Train Bleu (“Blue Train”). The largest food chains of the peninsula emirate Al-Meera and Souq al-Baladi also announced a boycott of French goods. French cheeses – Vache Qui rit, Kiri, and Babybel – have been removed from the shelves of supermarkets in Qatar and Kuwait.
“We have removed all French products, cheeses, creams and cosmetics,” Khaled Al-Taibi, vice chairman of the Kuwait Federation of Cooperatives, told France-Presse on Sunday, October 25. In addition, about 430 travel agencies of this Arab monarchy in the Persian Gulf have stopped booking tickets to France.
The boycott of French products was also called for by the leader of the Algerian Islamist party “Front for Justice and Development” Abdullah Jaballah, who demanded the local government to call the French ambassador and hand him a note of protest.
On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan joined the call to boycott French goods. He announced a campaign in Europe to “lynch” Muslims, similar to what had happened to Jews before World War II and called some European leaders “fascists” and “Nazis.
The French ambassador in Islamabad protested to the Pakistani Foreign Ministry in connection with “a systematic Islamophobic campaign under the guise of freedom of speech,” which, according to local authorities, is being conducted by Paris.
On Saturday, October 24, about 200 people gathered near the residence of the French ambassador to Israel demanding to ban cartoons of the prophet Mohammed. At the same time, photographs of the French president were lit by protesters in the Palestinian Gaza Strip.
The Moroccan Foreign Ministry issued an official communiqué in which it “condemned the publication of cartoons infringing on Islam and the Prophet,” and stated that “freedom of some ends where freedom of religion of others begins.
In Jordan, where French goods were also ostentatiously removed from some supermarkets, Mohammad al-Halayle, the minister of Islamic affairs, said that ‘insulting’ the Islamic prophets has nothing to do with personal freedom, but is ‘a crime that provokes violence.
In the Arab, Iranian and Turkish segments of the social networks, there are calls to launch a protest next Tuesday.
RFI correspondents in Egypt, Iran, and Iraq said on Sunday night that anti-French protests have not yet spread to these countries. However, already on Monday, Makron’s portraits and the French flag were burned by protesters in front of the French Embassy in Baghdad. And Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused France of “promoting extremism.
The French Foreign Ministry issued a communiqué on Sunday night urging the Middle East countries to stop the campaign of boycotting French goods. These calls “distort the position that France stands for freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and renunciation of all forms of hatred,” the Foreign Ministry said. Official Paris believes that the anti-French movement, which is spreading in the Middle East, “for political purposes, uses the words” of Emmanuel Macron about the cartoons he said during a farewell ceremony at the Sorbonne with teacher Samuel Petit, who was killed after a demonstration in cartoon lessons for the Prophet Mohammed.
Macron himself also reacted by posting a statement in French, English, and Arabic on his Twitter:
“We respect all differences that are expressed peacefully. We don’t accept hateful discourse and we stand for reasonable discussion”.
French Foreign Trade Minister Frank Rister said on Sunday that it is too early to draw conclusions about the economic consequences of the boycott in the Arab countries.
According to the French researcher David Riggle-Rose, a specialist in the Middle East, at the moment the impact of what is happening on the French economy is limited.
“This applies to a small number of countries among the sixty Muslim countries in the world,” the expert said in an interview with Franceinfo. – It should be noted that in countries such as Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates, such a wave did not happen in social networks, because they completely disagree with Erdogan as to the vision of political Islam”.
The researcher notes that Ankara may be behind the calls to boycott and replicate the anti-French campaign in the social networks by means of “trolls”. It is no accident, the expert stresses, that Qatar, one of Turkey’s closest allies in the Arab world, has become the country where the boycott of French goods was the most massive.
As EADaily reported, French authorities condemned Turkish propaganda against the Fifth Republic, which, they said, was aimed at inciting hatred in the country and abroad, and demanded last Sunday to immediately stop calls for a boycott of French goods, saying that such calls are the work of a “radical minority”. Paris recalled its ambassador in Ankara for consultations on October 24 after Turkish President Emmanuel Makron made an incorrect statement. Turkish leader advised the head of the Fifth Republic to “treat the psyche”. Erdogan snapped at rudeness last Saturday, saying the French president, who put forward the idea of “enlightened Islam” after the brutal murder of a teacher in a Paris suburb, should undergo a psychiatric examination. “President Erdogan’s words are unacceptable. Going to extremes and being rude is not the way. We demand that Erdogan change his political course because he is dangerous from all points of view. We do not engage in unnecessary arguments and do not accept insults,” the Elysian Palace pointed out.