Truth behind boycott French



Truth behind boycott French


Realty behind boycott French

France has been hit by multiple acts of terrorism in the French city of Nice an individual carrying a knife has attacked a group of people near a church, resulting in the death of three innocent people. Another attempted attack using a gun has been reported in other French cities as well. There has also been an attack at a French consulate in Saudi Arabia. So these acts of violence have been labeled as a terror attack by the French government, and it has placed France in a conflict with several Muslim majority countries. So this topic is no doubt highly sensitive and controversial. 

Let's approach the issue in a very neutral manner and discuss the issues at hand by staying away from the controversy. But first, let's look at the background. There is a satirical weekly newspaper in France, known as Charlie Hebdo. It is known for publishing satirical cartoons on several issues, which usually lead to controversy. So a few years ago, Charlie Hebdo had published a cartoon newspaper that carried a caricature of Prophet Muhammad, and this reportedly offended many Muslims around the world as it hurt their religious sentiments. So after the publication of this controversial cartoon on Prophet Muhammad by Charlie Hebdo. A call was given by many radical organizations to target the newspaper's headquarters in Paris. Eventually, this led to a major terror attack in 2015. Many innocent persons were killed near the Charlie Hebdo office. Reportedly, this terror was done by terrorists belonging to the al Qaeda. And it highlighted the fact that France is not new to witnessing acts of terrorism and available data shows that in just the last eight years, France has witnessed almost 37 terror attacks in which almost 200 innocent people have been killed. Most of these attacks have not been large-scale, well-organized attacks. Instead, they have been carried out by lone wolves, who are operating on their own. After getting self-radicalized, or they have been carried out by small modules that had affiliations with terror groups such as Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. So this makes France, one of the major victims of jihadist terror in Europe.

Now, five years later, the Charlie Hebdo incident has been triggered again, and it does lead to a series of attacks in France just a few weeks ago. In October 2020 a radical jihadist beheaded a school teacher for displaying this controversial cartoon to school students. This horrific incident of beheading invited a strong response from the French government and the French President Emmanuel Macron labeled this incident as a terror attack, and he launched a personal attack against radical organizations in the country. So after labeling the incident as a terror attack the French President and his government took firm action against radical extremism and extended complete support to the freedom of speech of Charlie Hebdo to publish these cartoons. Along with this, the French President stated that Islam as a religion is in crisis, and he called for the reform of Islam and he has even proposed to bring in a law to regulate religious activities and Islamic organizations in the country. While making these controversial statements and the French President called for reforming Islam in the country. And this naturally triggers major backlash in many Muslim majority countries. This backlash has resulted in widespread protests in many countries, including Bangladesh, Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, etc. There has been a massive backlash against the French government on social media platforms as well. And now. A few days later,

a fresh wave of attacks have taken place in the city of Nice and other French cities, and even French embassies and consulates around the world have come under threat after this attack in Saudi Arabia to the French consulate, and a few countries have even given a call to boycott goods that have been produced by French companies.

So the core issue over here is the conflict between French ideas and religious fundamentalism. First and foremost, let me clarify that religious fundamentalism is not limited to any particular religion. We can find religious extremism and fundamentalism in almost all religions of the world. Because in every religion, you have certain extremist elements who conveniently misinterpret the religion for propagating conservative and fundamentalist ideas to promote turmoil and discard the society so that they can reap the political benefits that arise out of such polarization. Here, let me take the liberty to point out a few radical strains in each religion in Islam, we have the radical Salafis who propagate jihad in Christianity, we have the white supremacists who assert their Neo-Nazi principles. In Hinduism, you have several fringe outfits that promote extroverts and fundamentalist ideologies. And even in the Khalistan movement and Buddhism, you have the Coniston moment. And the Buddhist radicals, who have targeted the Rohingya minority in Myanmar, and the Tamils in Sri Lanka, respectively. Even within Jews, you have an ultra-conservative set that repeatedly targets Palestinians and other Muslims of the region. So you can see, no religion is free from its version of extremism and fundamentalism, but at the same time, what needs to remember that acts of terrorism have no religion. Just because of radical elements or categories such as acts of terrorism. You can't label the entire religion or the entire religious community as a security threat. It is the vested interests in each religion, who are deliberately misinterpreting the religion for their own selfish political and ideological needs. But that being said hurt religious sentiments can never be used as an excuse to justify the usage of violent acts of terrorism and killings of innocent people.

 So it is in this context that we need to label all such violent acts inspired by religious extremism as acts of terrorism. Last year's attack on a mosque at Christchurch in New Zealand which was carried out by a white supremacist or the Easter Sunday attacks carried out across churches in Sri Lanka by a terror group that was affiliated with ISIS or the latest series of attacks in France,

being carried out by jihadis elements. They all need to be equally condemned as they need to be labeled as acts of terrorism. So these violent acts of terrorism that France has witnessed runs into a direct conflict with the French ideas of liberty, equality, and fraternity, which was inspired by the French Revolution, which in turn has inspired the preamble to the Indian constitution as well. The French have always given a very high priority to these ideas that are constitutional ideas, and they have championed the cause of freedom of speech and expression, freedom of thought, equality of religion. And more importantly, a strict version of secularism which separates the church from the state. And under this heart interpretation of secularism, the French government and the French society has never tolerated any form of religious fundamentalism and extremism. In general, the French people, the French state, and the French constitution have always taken a firm stand against all forms of religious extremism and fundamentalism irrespective of the religion that it originates from. However, in the current context, the targeting of radical Jihad by the French government has led to allegations of Islamophobia and it has been alleged that the French government is targeting the entire Muslim community in France for the acts of violence being committed by a few radical elements. 

As we discussed earlier, terrorism has no religion, and an entire community cannot be blamed for it for the acts of violence committed by a few radical extremists. However, the ongoing developments in France and around the world opens up a crucial debate between constitutional ideals, such as liberty, equality, fraternity, freedom of speech, equality and freedom of religion, and more importantly secularism, and the need to combat, all forms of religious extremism and fundamentalism.

So in response to these challenges being faced by the French government. It is very important to understand what has been the stand of the Indian government on this matter. In response to these attacks and protests against France, the Indian government has come out with strong support of the French government, and it has publicly condemned these violent incidents by labeling them as a terror attack. Prime Minister Modi himself has posted on various social media platforms condemning these acts of terrorism. And he has expressed complete sympathy to the French people and complete Indian support to the French government officially the Ministry of External Affairs has taken a similar stance. India has openly criticized the personal attack of the French President that has been unleashed by a few Muslim majority countries, such as Turkey and Pakistan. So we can see, this is not just a religious issue or a religious conflict, but it is more of a geopolitical issue. And it is no secret that Turkey and Pakistan are not in India's good books. These statements of India come at a time when India's Foreign Secretary Harshvardhan Shringla is on a visit to France to further strengthen the strategic partnership between the two countries. Traditionally, India and France have shared a very close strategic relationship. And they have always cooperated in the field of counterterrorism intelligence sharing defense cooperation. joint military exercises and offline, they have even begun to synchronize their Indo Pacific strategy as well.

To understand the extent of defense cooperation and strategic partnership. Just take a look at the kind of defense platforms that France has provided for India. This includes the Mirage 2000 fighter jet, and our file fighter jet, and as well as the scorpion diesel-electric submarines. Along with this, France has consistently supported India at various international platforms. And it was one of the very few countries in the world, which supported India's nuclear test at Pokhran. And unlike the other Western countries, it did not criticize India's nuclear tests. Then along with this, France has consistently supported India's membership of the NSG, and as well as India's entry into an expanded UN Security Council. So this just goes on to highlight the extent of strategic closeness between India and France, and this explains the phone support that India has extended to France during this time of crisis that to secure French interests in India from any possible terror attacks. The Indian government has stepped up security at the French Embassy in New Delhi, and as well as at all the French consulates in Mumbai Bengaluru, Kolkata, and Puducherry. 

How this crisis has turned into a geopolitical conflict between Turkey and France, see as the French President Emmanuel Macron was facing a backlash from many Muslim countries around the world. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan unleashed a personal attack against the French President. Turkey has even followed this up with a call for the boycott of all French goods. This has exposed the divide in Turkey's France relationship. Even though both happened to be key members of the NATO grouping. So this open attack of the Turkish President against the French President is an outcome of the ongoing geopolitical conflict between Turkey and France, on the other hand, France is a leading power of the European Union.

It is trying to reassert its military posture in the region. And President Macron has been trying to establish the dominance of France in the European region. This runs counter to the revivalist ideology of Turkish President Erdogan because under him Turkey has slowly turned authoritative and more conservative from being a secular liberal country and Erdogan has been actively pursuing the expansionist policies of the Ottoman Empire, and his foreign policy is being referred to as the new auto policy. As a part of the strategy of Erdogan to consolidate his image in the Muslim world and to establish Turkey as a leading Muslim power, the local government has been trying to champion the cause of the Muslims around the world by openly countering other leading Muslim countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Iran. Turkey supports Pakistan, the Kashmir dispute, and as well as about the Indian citizenship Amendment Act. So this expansionist and revival strategy of Erdogan places him in direct conflict with France, and this geopolitical conflict has been playing out across multiple locations in Africa and Europe. Take, for example, Libya in Libya, both Turkey and France have been traditional powers. Currently, Libya has fallen into a state of civil war which is backed by Government Turkey. But contrary to Turkey's position, the French government has been backing a parallel government based out of two Tobruk, has also extended support to the military campaign that is being waged by General Khalifa Haptaar against the turkey pact government based out of Tripoli. And recently, in the eastern Mediterranean, our direct tussle has emerged between Turkey and France. Over the last few months, we have discussed the recent discovery of oil and gas in the eastern Mediterranean, and how they plan to exploit these hydrocarbon resources in the Eastern Mediterranean has turned into a geopolitical conflict between Turkey and Greece, and Cyprus. Turkey has raised claims or the exclusive economic zone that essentially belongs to Greece and Cyprus. And these countries had even entered into a military standoff over this issue. While this crisis was escalating the eastern Mediterranean, France deployed its naval warships. Thus, the leading power of the European Union, France directly threatened Turkey to maintain the status quo in the region and not violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of countries such as Greece and Cyprus, that even about the ongoing conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Our divide has emerged between France and Turkey. Because Turkey has been a traditional ally of Azerbaijan, and when the conflict broke out over the Nagorno Karabakh region, Turkey immediately incident support to Azerbaijan. And in response, France criticized the Turkish government for unilaterally supporting just one party in the conflict, which has further increased instability in the periphery of Europe. So it is no wonder that as soon as the latest crisis emerged in France. The Turkish President unleashed a direct attack against the French President. And this explains the geopolitical roots of this ongoing conflict between Turkey and France.

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