Pakistan minister of human rights Shireen Mazari compared French President Emmanuel Macron's treatment of Muslims to Nazi Germany's treatment of Jews.
Mazari's made the claim in a tweet on Saturday, alleging that "Macron is doing to Muslims what the Nazis did to the Jews. Muslim children will get ID numbers (other children won't) just as Jews were forced to wear the yellow star on their clothing for identification," NBC News reports.
To support her allegations, Mazari shared an article which falsely stated that France is planning to give only Muslim children ID numbers. While the proposed law does aim to combat Islamist radicalization, the law does not only apply to Muslim children. The law, if passed, would distribute identification cards to all French in order to ensure that they are attending classes. Defending the plan, French interior minister Gerald Darmanin argued that France "must save these children from the clutches of the Islamists."
The law also restricts homeschooling, levels harsher punishments against those who engage in religious intimidation, and bans the sharing of personal information for the purpose of causing harm, colloquially known as "doxing."
Mazari's accusation immediately sparked outrage in France. Responding to Mazari's statement, the French foreign ministry stated "these hateful words are blatant lies, imbued with an ideology of hatred and violence. Such slander is unworthy of this level of responsibility. We reject them with the greatest firmness."
Mazari has since deleted the tweet, claiming that she did so because the article she shared "has been corrected." She did not apologize for the tweet, however.
Pakistan has its own troubling record on religious freedom. Christians in Pakistan, despite constituting less than 2% of the population, are frequently the targets of terrorism, state persecution, and kidnappings. A recent case involving Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who was accused of blasphemy following an argument with her co-workers, led to her being granted asylum in Canada after being handed the death sentence by a Pakistani court.
Protests have erupted across the Islamic world against the French government in recent weeks as President Macron defends freedom of speech against threats posed by Islamist extremism. Macron's defense of freedom of speech follows the October beheading of a school teacher who introduced his class to images of the Islamic prophet Mohammad. The beheading also clashes with France's state secularism, which Macron claims to be under threat by Islamist extremists.
The beheading was not the only recent act of Islamist terrorism in France in recent months, with an attack using a meat cleaver leaving two injured in September while a second attack in October left three people dead after a church in the Mediterranean city of Nice was targeted.
"I will never accept that someone can justify the use of physical violence because of these cartoons," Macron stated.
Some have suggested that Macron's defense of free speech is defensive and opportunistic. Amnesty International pointed to the detainment of four ten-year-old children who questioned the right of Samuel Paty, the school teacher, to display the cartoons and the closing of mosques and Muslim organizations "on the basis of the ambiguous concept of 'radicalization.'" The NGO further described France's stance on the matter as "shameless hypocrisy."
France is home to the largest Muslim population in western Europe, with estimates putting the Muslim population as high as 10% of the entire nation's. Such estimates are unreliable, however, as the French government does not inquire into the religious beliefs of its population in the census in accordance with the secular identity of the state.
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