The Kolkata Police on Wednesday stopped a rally that the All Bengal Minority Youth Federation organised in protest against French President Emmanuel Macron.
At the demonstration, the protesters displayed a defaced portrait of the French President, and raised slogans against the publication in France of cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammad. They demanded that the Indian government summon the French ambassador, and issue a strong statement on the matter.
Islamic tradition prohibits the images of Allah, Muhammad, and the other major prophets of the religion. On October 16, a French teacher was beheaded after he allegedly showed cartoons of Muhammad, which were published by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, during a class on freedom of expression.
Days before the killing, Macron had made a controversial speech in which he declared that “Islam is a religion that is in crisis today all over the world” and “plagued by radical temptations”.
The speech, and Macron’s comments after the beheading, angered many Islamic countries. Turkey and Pakistan took the lead in accusing the French President of Islamophobia. Last week, a man with a knife killed three people in a church in the southern French city of Nice in what Macron called the latest Islamist terror attack to hit the country.
At the protest in Kolkata, the federation’s representative Mohammed Kamruzzaman said, “We want the Indian government to summon the French ambassador and give a strong statement on the issue. We believe India is a country that embraces unity in diversity. In the name of freedom of expression, you cannot insult someone else’s belief. We want our government to take a strong stand against France on this.”
The rally was scheduled to start at the Tipu Sultan mosque and end at Victoria House. However, the police stopped the protestors and they were not allowed to proceed.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines