Celebrations of the Moulid Al-Nabawi, or the birth of Prophet Mohamed, on Wednesday came amid dismay in many Muslim countries over a statement made by French President Emmanuel Macron last week that France would impose no constraints on publishing cartoons even if considered offensive to Muslims.
Macron’s remarks were made after a radical Islamist beheaded a history teacher who had shown offensive cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed to his students.
The terrorist attack soon sparked outrage across France and public rallies in support of freedom of expression, while Muslim leaders were quick to condemn the murder as a terrorist act that had nothing to do with Islam.
Macron’s remark that “Islam is a religion that is in crisis all over the world today, not only in France” was seen as provocative, and some Muslim leaders, including Al-Azhar, slammed them as “racist”.
Al-Azhar condemned the killing and called for an end to all offensive practices.
The grand imam of Al-Azhar in Cairo said that the Committee of Muslim Sages at the institution intends to sue the French magazine Charlie Hebdo for its repeated publication of cartoons presenting an insensitive portrayal of the Prophet Mohamed.