JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has condemned any attempt to link Islam with terrorist actions whilst denouncing the republication of offensive depictions of the Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him).
Quoting an official source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Saudi Press Agency said on Tuesday that Saudi Arabia also condemned every terrorist act, regardless of its perpetrator.
“Saudi Arabia calls for intellectual and cultural freedom to be a beacon that spreads a message of respect, tolerance, and peace, and rejects all practices and actions that incite hatred, violence, and extremism,” the source was quoted as saying.
Political analyst Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri described the statement as balanced.
“The official source represented the stance of Saudi Arabia, the heart of the Muslim world. It does not accept such offenses against Islam and Muslims. The Saudi reactions have always been judicious and avoid escalation. They also tend to make the offenders realize their blunder,” Al-Shehri said.
Commenting on provocative remarks made by some heads of state against Islam and Muslims, he said such statements show that these leaders were against Islam and its followers.
“It is really sad (to note) that a president of any country goes that far and stokes tensions. In France, for example, there are many Muslims, and I wonder how the French president addresses a segment of his people in that way, let alone 1.5 billion Muslims around the world.”
He said such provocative speeches hurt religious sentiments and posed a danger, adding that the world needed “interfaith dialogue, not disrespect.”
Al-Shehri said: “Islam does not interfere in the affairs of the followers of the other religions. The West, unfortunately, wants to change people the way they like. When (French President) Emmanuel Macron said, ‘Islam (is) in crisis all over the world,’ in fact, he himself is in crisis because he always puts his nose into Muslims’ affairs. He even intrudes on what people eat, drink, or wear. I believe such behavior has nothing to do with secularism or liberalism,” the analyst said.
He stressed that supporting offensive caricatures under the name of free speech was an assault on others’ religions, lamenting that the world did not react as strongly when worshippers were massacred in last year’s mass shootings in Christchurch mosques.
President Macron has vowed to take the fight to Islamist radicals after the Oct. 16 beheading of a history teacher, who had shown blasphemous caricatures during a class discussion on free speech.
Macron’s comments have created resentment in the Muslim world, prompting protests in various parts of the globe and leading to calls to boycott French products. Many products have been already reportedly been removed from malls in Kuwait, Jordan and Qatar.
According to a BBC report, France has urged Middle Eastern countries to end calls for boycotting its goods.
“The baseless calls for a boycott were being pushed by a radical minority,” the BBC quoted the French Foreign Ministry as saying.
Following the beheading of the French teacher, the Saudi Foreign Ministry expressed solidarity with the French people and offered condolences to his family and the French government. The ministry renewed its call to respect religious symbols and to refrain from stirring hatred by insulting religion.