Analysis has found that the hashtag appealing for the boycott of French products first appeared as early as October 2, despite that the terrible decapitation of French schoolteacher Samuel Paty happened on October 16 after that he had exposed cartoons of Islam’s Prophet Mohammed.
In fact, the first time that the hashtag appeared on Twitter came as a response tweet after that the Turkish state broadcaster TRT’s Arabic channel published a photo of French President Emmanuel Macron accompanied by a citation of Macron saying that Islam is a religion going through a crisis in the world.
TRT Arabi said in a tweet: French President Emmanuel Macron describes Islam as ‘a religion that is in crisis in the world.’ What do you think of his recent statement?
Macron said on October 2 that his government would reveal a proposed law to combat Islamist separatism later in the same year to fight what he saw as those favoring religious laws over France’s republican and secular values. Macron reported that Islam is a religion that is in crisis all over the world today, we are not just seeing this in our country.
The debate’s French on Islam intensified on October 16, when Abdullah Anzorov, an 18-year-old Russian man that had Chechen origins, beheaded 47-year-old teacher Samuel Paty outside his school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, northwest of Paris. On October 23, caricatures insulting the Prophet Mohammed were projected onto government buildings in France. The viral hashtags of #BoycottFrenchProducts, #Islam, and #NeverTheProphet in Arabic.
Amplified by pro-Muslim Brotherhood networks
The hashtags have also been increased in recent days by pro-Muslim Brotherhood media networks such as Turkey’s TRT and Qatar’s Al Jazeera.
Al Jazeera showed on tweeter many photos on Monday using the hashtags #NeverTheProphet and #BoycottFrenchProducts to demonstrate several protests around the Arab and Islamic worlds.
Al Jazeera said in Tweet: #Except_the_Messenger_of_God and the #BoycottFrenchProducts. Calls for a boycott were accompanied by protests in a number of Arab and Islamic countries against Macron’s insults of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, may God bless him and grant him peace.
According to Track My Hashtag, which is a hashtag analysis site, on October 26 that means five days after Macron’s national tribute speech of Paty, the most tweeted again in a tweet under the #BoycottFrenchProducts hashtag was by Hakem al-Mutairi who is a pro-Muslim Brotherhood Kuwaiti hate preacher. He is now under investigation by Kuwait’s Ministry of Interior after leaked recordings of his past conversations with the former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi talking about the overthrow of other Arab leaders.
Calls for boycotts after insults were made at Islam’s Prophet Mohammed have taken place in the past. In 2005, Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten caused worldwide controversy when it published cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammed and in 2010, a campaign Everybody Draw Mohammed Day was made after the censorship of Comedy Central’s South Park episode 201 presenting a character in a bear costume, who various other characters related that was the prophet of Islam.
In comparison to those past protests and campaigns, It’s appear that several in the Arab media focus less this time given the geopolitical issues that are placing France on the one side, while Qatar and Turkey on the other on issues such as the Libyan conflict and the conflict in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Saudi Arabian writer Muhammad al-Saad wrote in the Okaz newspaper: Today, with some French media insulting the Prophet, and with the calls made by Qatar and Turkey to boycott France, this appears to be an export of speech only, highlighting the question that Doha and Ankara evaded from… Why has Qatar not yet taken the initiative to boycott France and abandon those investments that feed the French economy and supports the current government?
Al-Saad indicated past reports of the investment of Qatar in France, like Doha’s purchase of 24 Dassault Rafale fighter jets and French government declaration that Qatar has invested, directly and indirectly, about $15 billion in France during the past five years, excluding the private investments made by the Emir of Qatar and his family.
Slow to protest
Moreover, protest campaigns have stimulated in the past a more cohesive position from the Arab and Islamic world. After the Jyllands-Posten Prophet Mohammed cartoons debate in Denmark in 2005, 11 ambassadors from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Egypt, Indonesia, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Libya, Morocco, and the Head of the Palestinian General Delegation demanded a meeting with the Danish prime minister to talk about the cartoons.
Saudi Arabia declared on Tuesday that it denounces any cartoons insulting the Prophet Mohammed and denies any attempts to link Islam with terrorism. Furthermore, the Secretary-General of the Mecca-based Muslim World League Mohammed al-Issa related that Muslims do not stand against constitutional freedoms of individuals only attempts to distort those freedoms and using them to spread hatred. He also said: We are not against legitimate freedoms, but we are against employing those freedoms for material gain, undermining their value. We are also against the consequential spread of hatred and racism.
The #BoycottFrenchProducts hashtag appeared early on October 3, it started actually to spread worldwide on October 21 after Macron’s speech paying tribute to Paty. According to the hashtag analysis website Track My Hashtag, 560,000 tweets were published under the #BoycottFrenchProducts between October 2 and October 27. While the French government has answered the protests and demands for a boycott by saying that the hashtags have distorted France’s true position.
France’s foreign ministry declared in a statement: These calls distort the positions France has upheld in favor of freedom of conscience, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, and the rejection of any incitement to hatred. They also distort and exploit for political purposes the statements the President made in Les Mureaux on 2 October and during the national tribute to Samuel Paty, aimed at fighting radical Islamism and doing so with the Muslims of France, who are an integral part of France’s society, history and Republic.
The statement also related: The calls for boycotting are therefore completely groundless and must stop immediately, along with any attacks directed against our country, which are exploited by a radical minority.