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French President Emmanuel Macron, wearing a protective face mask, stands outside the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, October 28, 2020.  (REUTERS)
French President Emmanuel Macron, wearing a protective face mask, stands outside the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, October 28, 2020. (REUTERS)

Indian foreign ministry strongly deplores attacks on French President

Macron has been slammed by Pakistan and Turkey in recent days for his comments defending the school teacher Samuel Paty

NEW DELHI: India on Wednesday came out in strong support of French President Emmanuel slammed by Turkey and Pakistan for his comments following the beheading of a French schoolteacher days after he had shown caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed to his students in France earlier this month.

In a strong statement, the Indian foreign ministry said that India “strongly" deplored “the personal attacks in unacceptable language on President Emmanuel Macron in violation of the most basic standards of international discourse."

“We also condemn the brutal terrorist attack that took the life of a French teacher in a gruesome manner that has shocked the world. We offer our condolences to his family and the people of France," it said.

“There is no justification for terrorism for any reason or under any circumstance," it added.

Macron has been slammed by Pakistan and Turkey in recent days for his comments defending the school teacher Samuel Paty. “We will continue… We will defend the freedom that you taught so well and we will bring secularism," Macron is reported to have said after the beheading of the teacher by his Chechen student on 16 October. Macron added that France would “not give up cartoons, drawings, even if others back down."

Just a few days prior to Paty’s killing, Macron had reportedly said “Islam is a religion that is in crisis today all over the world," “plagued by radical temptations and by a yearning for a reinvented jihad which is the destruction of the other."

The remarks together drew the ire of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

“What problem does this person called Macron have with Muslims and Islam? Macron needs treatment on a mental level," Erdogan was reported as saying in response to Macron’s remarks.

Khan, who sees Turkey as a close ally, on his part in a Twitter post said:"This is a time when President Macron could have put a healing touch and denied space to extremists rather than creating further polarization and marginalization that inevitably leads to radicalization." The comment was in response to Macron’s comments following Paty’s death.

India views France as a strategic partner with India’s prime minister Narendra Modi seen as sharing warm ties with Macron. Last year, Macron had invited Modi to participate in the G-7 session in Biarritz. The two countries together are seen as the founder members of the International Solar Alliance. It was France that had moved a resolution in the UN Security Council following the Pulwama attack in Kashmir last year that eventually led to the designation of Pakistan based Maulana Masood Azhar as a terrorist under UN norms. France is also a key source of defence hardware for India including submarines and fighter aircraft. Next month, India is to receive another batch for four Rafale multi-role aircraft from Dassault Aviation, part of 36 aircraft ordered by India. New Delhi has already received a first batch of five Rafale in the month of July.

The strong Indian reaction in support of Macron came on a day New Delhi said foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla would be travelling to France, Germany and the United Kingdom from 29 October-04 November.

“France, Germany and UK are strategic partners of India and are nations with which India has close and well-established relations. Bilateral ties are multi-dimensional and have grown rapidly, “ a separate statement from the foreign ministry said.

“During his visit, Foreign Secretary will review bilateral relations and discuss matters of mutual interest and share Indian perspectives with his counterparts and with other key interlocutors. He will also interact with businesspersons, academics, intellectuals and media persons in these three countries. The Foreign Secretary will discuss international cooperation in dealing with the ongoing pandemic and its consequences," it said.

India's ties with France, Germany and the UK “are built on a foundation of shared democratic values and are informed by a commonality of interest in issues such as sustainable development and climate change. India has very substantial trade and commercial ties and large investment flows with these countries. India also works closely with these countries in multilateral and plurilateral platforms on various issues," the statement said.

“Indian priorities such as robust and reformed multilateralism, its expanded multilateral and plurilateral engagements including its forthcoming non-permanent tenure in the United Nations Security Council, and its commitment to a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific will be discussed" at each of the stops during the foreign secretary’s visit, the statement said.

Shringla’s visit to these countries “is part of India’s continuing international engagement and diplomatic outreach in spite of the limitations posed by the pandemic," it added.

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