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“Changing laws […] to isolate a minority sets a dangerous precedent, ”the Pakistani president said of the separatism law. Paris expressed its “surprise” and its “disapproval” of these comments.

The French Foreign Ministry summoned on February 22, 2021 the charge d’affaires of the Pakistan embassy and called on Islamabad to a “constructive attitude” after remarks made by the Pakistani president against a bill targeting radical Islam. Arif Alvi, the Asian head of state, ruled on February 20 that the bill “consolidating respect for the principles of the Republic” adopted by French deputies on February 16 at first reading was detrimental to Muslims.

“We have expressed our surprise and our disapproval, when the bill does not contain any discriminatory provisions, in accordance with our Constitution and our international commitments”, declared the spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “It is guided by the fundamental principles of freedom of worship and freedom of conscience, does not distinguish between different religions and its provisions will therefore apply equally to all cults. Pakistan must understand this and adopt a constructive attitude for our bilateral relations, ”added Agnès von der Mühll.

The text, wanted by President Emmanuel Macron, has in its sights the entryism of elements considered radical. It creates an offense of separatism, strengthens the control of cultural and religious associations and hardens the rules of home education. But the subject is sensitive in a country where the place and organization of Islam constitute a subject of recurring tension and which is very marked by a succession of jihadist attacks since the carnage in January 2015 within the editorial staff of the magazine. satirical Charlie hebdo until the recent beheading in October of a teacher, Samuel Paty.

The tea towel burns between Islamabad and Paris

The Pakistani president expressed concern about the risk of stigmatization against Muslims. “Changing laws […] to isolate a minority sets a dangerous precedent, ”he said,“ urging ”the French authorities not to allow such“ regressions ”. Pakistan was the scene of anti-French protests, often heated, after the republication in September of the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad by Charlie hebdo.

The French Foreign Ministry had already strongly condemned in November the “detestable and false” remarks by a Pakistani minister about President Macron and his relations with the Muslim population in France. Pakistani Minister of Human Rights Shireen Mazari said in a tweet that “Macron does to Muslims what the Nazis inflicted on Jews”.

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