Activists have called on football fans to pay their respects to the Prophet Muhammad during France and Morocco’s semi-final match on Wednesday, an event which will be attended by French President Emmanuel Macron.
Social Media influencer Mahmoud Al Hasanat took to Twitter on Monday to urge Muslim fans to join the show of solidarity, saying: “I hope to hear from the Moroccan fans in the France-Morocco match, sending prayers upon the Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, as they shake the stands.”
Previously, the influencer highlighted that Macron will be attending the game.
His call for action was echoed by Boutaina Azzabi Ezzaouia, author and former Al Jazeera Media Network employee, who shared Al Hasanat’s now-deleted tweet.
“Dear fellow Moroccans raise your voices, saleew 3la Nabi Mohammed, this coming match against France. Let President Emmanuel Macron & his entourage know that we let nobody insult our beloved Prophet,” she wrote in an Instagram post on Monday.
Many have supported the move, with some hoping for the instance to occur in a bid to “show Macron the Ummah [Muslim community] he insults”.
President Macron is traveling to Qatar to attend France’s match with Morocco in the 2022 FIFA World Cup semi-finals on Wednesday, the French sports has minister confirmed.
“The details of the trip remain to be settled, of course, but he had made this commitment,” French Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera told Franceinfo radio on Sunday.
Islamophobia in France
France has long faced international scrutiny over anti-Arab and Islamophobic sentiment among its politicians and public figures.
French President Macron has himself claimed that Islam is a religion “in crisis” and has presided over Paris’ controversial “anti-separatism” law, which rights groups say has been used to target minorities, particularly Muslims. Under the law, dozens of French mosques have been raided and closed down.
Macron has also has staunchly defended xenophobic caricatures produced by the French media, saying France “will not give up cartoons”.
Ahead of the World Cup, Arabs were yet again the targets of the French media, with a dossier published by a controversial newspaper that took aim at Qatar.
Social media users called out the French newspaper Le Canard Enchaîné for brazen racism and Islamophobia after it published a caricature depicting Arabs in football kits as terrorists.
Similar images have been seen before in the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which has ridiculed the Prophet Muhammad, depicted a black French minister as a monkey and mocked the death of Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi, among other things.
Muslim activists have responded to France’s racist caricatures and laws targeting Muslims by calling for boycotts of French products.
A popular #BoycottFrance movement took place in Qatar in 2020, which saw citizens calling for French goods to be replaced with Turkish products.
According to a report by the International Trade Centre, French exports to Qatar took a massive hit with a 59% decrease. The value of sales to Qatar dropped from $4.2 million in 2019 to $1.7 million in 2020.