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News around Africa - October 28, 2020

Amid France-Turkey Tension, UK Calls on NATO Allies to Defend Free Speech

In a masked rebuke to NATO member Turkey, who have been calling for a boycott of French goods, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called on NATO allies to stand shoulder-to-shoulder on the principles of tolerance and freedom of speech.

The President of Turkey Tayyip Erdogan has called on Turks to stop purchasing French products and accused France of pushing an anti-Islam agenda.

He is one of the Muslim world leaders angry with France over its reaction to the murder of teacher Samuel Paty, who displayed cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad to pupils as part of a free speech lesson. On October 26, Paty was assaulted and killed in the street for showing the aforementioned cartoons to his students.

Following the murder, France conducted dozens of raids against suspected Islamic extremists, closed a major mosque and shut down some Muslim aid groups.

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In France, a nation still traumatized by some 36 Islamic inspired terrorist attacks in the last eight years, including two that together claimed more than 200 lives, those stringent measures have found wide support . A fierce supporter of French secularism and the right to freedom of expression, President Emmanuel Macron went so far as to say that Islam required the enlightenment.

Severally Islamic states, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Kuwait, Pakistan have expressed their displeasure with move taken by the French president.

“The UK stands in solidarity with France and the French people in the wake of the appalling murder of Samuel Paty,” said Raab. “Terrorism can never and should never be justified.

“NATO allies and the wider international community must stand shoulder-to-shoulder on the fundamental values of tolerance and free speech, and we should never give terrorists the gift of dividing us.”

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