Denis Ferreira said the French Embassy had been given permission to send some of the Belgian cartoons
French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is in Cairo today to try to calm tensions over a Belgian-produced cartoon that shows the Prophet Mohammed dressed as a Palestinian soccer player.
France has for the first time called for a world day of restraint in the run-up to the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and brands the cartoon debate part of a larger trend to “highlight the fissures” left by the Paris attacks in November 2015.
Two weeks after the attacks, Muslim, Jewish and Christian governments across the world protested a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad that came out in Belgium, triggering a furious reaction in the Muslim world, which saw cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed circulate across the internet for months.
Alaa Mutabian, deputy spokesman for Egypt’s foreign ministry, said Le Drian had seen the cartoons – as did Italy’s foreign minister, Paolo Gentiloni – before flying to Cairo.“We have been informed that the French Embassy has been given permission to send some of the Belgian cartoons,” said Mutabian. “We want to ensure calm and maintain peace during Ramadan.”
France has been among a handful of countries called on to apologise for the caricature in which a Palestinian player dressed as a soccer player is dressed up as Mohammed.
France and several other Western countries have not apologised, and continue to call the cartoon offensive and an insult to Islam.
Belgium said it would spend 200,000 euros ($223,000) on an educational centre to help illustrate ideas of tolerance. But anger simmered in the Muslim world, prompting reaction from Egypt’s interior minister, Mohamed Said, who warned French ambassadors to leave Cairo.
“The exploitation of this crisis as a means to fuel racial tensions and prejudice is totally unacceptable,” Said said in a statement.
French CGT union members protested outside the French embassy in Cairo.
On the sidelines of a conference in Portugal, Germany’s foreign minister is scheduled to meet French President Emmanuel Macron.
Macron has said he does not regret publishing the cartoon, as a cover for France’s attempts to project its presence on the world stage.
“If you don’t fear offending others, then your absence does not affect the problem,” Macron said.
After the war, Wahhabism took root in Saudi Arabia, and today more than 3,400 people in Egypt and the Palestinian territories are jailed for his actions, according to the rights group Amnesty International.
France, which has a sizeable Muslim minority of 5.6 million, has always been uneasy about extremism, especially in Libya.
First lady Brigitte Macron accompanied her husband on a business trip in Tunisia last month. In recent years the two countries have made strides in jointly combating Islamists.
The next Muslim holy month – the Muslim Eid – begins in the month of Ramadan on December 1.