JAKARTA (Reuters) – Thousands of angry Muslims protested outside the French embassy in the Indonesian capital on Monday carrying banners calling French President Emmanuel Macron the “real terrorist” and demanding the country’s ambassador be immediately expelled.
Joining global outcry over Macron’s comments about Islam, protesters in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation demanded the French leader withdraw his words and apologise to Muslims around the world.
“Inshallah (God willing), we Muslims forgive but if he does not withdraw all his words and caricatures and apologise, Inshallah, he will always be despised (by the Muslim world),” Nazaruddin, a 70-year-old protestor, told Reuters.
Dressed in black and white prayer caps and face masks, protesters joined Monday’s protest in downtown Jakarta carrying banners with a devilish caricature of the French president’s face, red with pointed ears, carrying the words “Macron is the real terrorist”.
Demonstrators waved Islamic flags while calling for the French ambassador to be expelled and a boycott on French products.
In recent weeks the French president has enraged Muslims for describing Islam as a “religion in crisis all over the world” and for vehemently defending free speech that some have deemed blasphemous and inflammatory.
Macron’s remarks came before and after two recent attacks in France.
Last week a knife-wielding Tunisian man yelling “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest) beheaded a woman and killed two other people in the French city of Nice.
Two weeks earlier a teacher was beheaded by an 18-year-old, who was apparently enraged that a cartoon of Prophet Mohammad had been shown in class.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, better known by his nickname “Jokowi”, has condemned both the recent attack in Nice, and Macron’s comments, which he said had “insulted Islam” and “hurt the unity of Muslims everywhere”.
Indonesia’s foreign ministry has summoned the French ambassador on Tuesday to discuss the remarks.
(Writing by Kate Lamb; Editing by Giles Elgood)