India backs Macron after attacks by Pakistan, Turkey; says no justification for terror
New Delhi’s opposition to criticism of Macron came against the backdrop of foreign secretary Harsh Shringla beginning a two-day visit to France and another terror attack in the French city of Nice, where a knife-wielding man killed three people in a church.Updated: Oct 29, 2020, 21:39 IST
India on Thursday came out strongly in support of French President Emmanuel Macron’s stance on radical Islam in the wake of the beheading of a teacher in Paris and deplored personal attacks on him by countries such as Turkey and Pakistan.
New Delhi’s opposition to criticism of Macron came against the backdrop of foreign secretary Harsh Shringla beginning a two-day visit to France and another terror attack in the French city of Nice, where a knife-wielding man killed three people in a church.
Macron has pledged to crack down on radical Islam in France after the October 16 beheading of Samuel Paty, a professor who used controversial caricatures of Prophet Mohammed from the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in a class on freedom of expression. Paty’s killing by a suspected terrorist triggered a heated debate on secularism and Islamophobia in France.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last week that Macron needs “some sort of mental treatment” for his attitude towards Muslims, while Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan accused the French president of encouraging Islamophobia.
Asked about such criticism of Macron at the external affairs ministry’s weekly news briefing, spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said without naming any countries: “We have strongly deplored the personal attacks in unacceptable language on President Emmanuel Macron and we have also condemned the brutal terrorist attack that took the life of a French teacher.”
He added, “We believe there is no justification for terrorism for any reason or under any circumstance.”
The external affairs ministry also said in a statement that the attacks on Macron violate the “most basic standards of international discourse”. It added that Paty’s murder has “shocked the world”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned recent terror attacks in France, including the one in Nice, in a tweet, saying: “Our deepest and heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and the people of France. India stands with France in the fight against terrorism.”
Shringla tweeted that he had reiterated the “PM’s message to our #French interlocutors and at the public event at the Institute of French International Relations (IFFRI)”.
French ambassador Emmanuel Lenain responded to the external affairs ministry’s expression of support by tweeting: “Thank you @MEAIndia. France and India can always count on each other in the fight against terrorism.”
Amid protests in some Muslim countries over Macron’s defence of the publication of the caricatures of Prophet Mohammed, there was support for the French president from European states such as the UK. Foreign secretary Dominic Raab said the UK stands with France “in sorrow, shock and solidarity at the horrifying events in Nice” and he offered “every support to the French people in pursuing those responsible for this appalling attack”.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: “I am appalled to hear the news from Nice...of a barbaric attack at the Notre-Dame Basilica. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families, and the UK stands steadfastly with France against terror and intolerance.”
France has emerged as one of India’s strongest allies in Europe and has taken a strong position on security challenges facing the country, especially at the UN Security Council. It has consistently criticised cross-border terrorism targeting India and was also one of the first countries to offer support amid the border standoff with China and the killing of 20 Indian soldiers in a clash in June.
French defence minister Florence Parly expressed “deep solidarity” over the death of the Indian soldiers in a violent face-off along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and conveyed her country’s “steadfast and friendly support” in a letter sent to her Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh.
India’s support for Macron also comes at a time when New Delhi’s relations with Islamabad and Ankara are at a low. Pakistani and Turkish leaders have earned India’s ire by repeatedly raising the issue of Kashmir and treatment of minorities at international forums such as the UN.