RIYADH: The head of the Muslim World League has responded to plans in France for tougher laws to tackle “Islamist separatism.”
In a speech earlier this month, President Emmanuel Macron announced new laws that he said would tackle “a counter-society.” He said they would defend France's secular values against Islamist radicalism.
Macron also said Islam is a religion that is in crisis all over the world.
Asked about Macron’s comments, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, the MWL secretary-general, said extremists had harmed Islam’s reputation.
“There are people who are falsely considered Muslims,” Al-Issa said in an interview on MBC television. “These have harmed Islam’s reputation with their radicalism and extremism – and sometimes, their violence, including their terrorism.
“These do not represent Islam at all, and if we defend them – whether directly or indirectly, (that would mean) we are exactly like them.”
When asked about Macron’s references to separatism and isolationism, Al-Issa said extremists and terrorists “were the first to isolate themselves from Islamic society.”
He said the 2019 Makkah Declaration, which was signed by thousands of clerics and Islamic scholars from around the world, emphasized the need to respect the constitutions, laws, and cultures of countries.
The declaration called for anti-extremism, religious and cultural diversity, and legislation against hate and violence.
Al-Issa has previously said it is his “mission” to wipe out extremist ideology and he has spearheaded efforts to tackle radicalisation.
In his speech, Macron said France would seek to “liberate” Islam in France from foreign influences.
He previously hit out at “political Islam” in February and singled out the Muslim Brotherhood.