Sena backs French President over Cartoon row

CM Uddhav Thackeray - Emmanuel Macron

When the Bhopal Congress MLA, Arif Masood led thousands in protest against the French President Macron’s Islam crackdown last week, surprisingly, Shiv Sena took a different stand on Tuesday. The Sena that leads the Maha-Vikas- Aghadi in which the Congress is one of the principal partners of the government, said those who engaged in the barbaric act of slitting throats in the name of religion in France are enemies of humanity and hence, French President Emmanuel Macron needs to be backed against it.

Posters of France President Macron – whose defence of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed and description of Islam as “a religion in crisis” have angered several Muslim-majority nations – were pasted on the surface of Mumbai’s Muhammad Ali Road last week.

Videos of vehicles driving over the posters and people walking over them have been shared online. Others show people marching to protest Macron’s comments – with placards that read “Our Prophet Muhammad, Our Honour” – and one man hitting a poster of the French President with slippers. The posters have triggered a political row in Maharashtra, with the opposition BJP hitting out at the ruling Shiv Sena for “supporting Islam terrorists” and demanding action against the protesters.

Surprisingly, Abu Azmi, an MLA from Samajwadi Party that extended its support to the coalition MVA government, also supported the action of a section of Muslims organisation in Mumbai that took out a protest against Macron’s comments a couple of days ago.

The Shiv Sena on Tuesday said that political parties and Muslim community in India have no reason to get involved into the “internal affairs” of France. It said that Prophet Muhammad is a symbol of “peace and patience”. Those who claim to be his followers are murdering the ideology and raising question mark before the entire Islam, the Sena said.

However, neither the state unit of Congress nor the central leadership of the century-old party preferred to comment on the issue.