France Tries to Reconcile With Muslim Allies
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Sunday flew to Egypt to meet with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in an attempt to smooth over tensions arising from Paris’ handling of recent protests against it around the Muslim world. Le Drian emphasized “the deep respect” his government holds for Islam, noting that what it is fighting “is terrorism, it is the hijacking of religion, it is extremism.” Perhaps more importantly, the foreign minister met with Egypt’s highest Muslim authority, Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al-Azhar, who last week called French President Emmanuel Macron a “racist” for denouncing Islamist extremism and violence. The attempt to defuse the testy situation comes after several Muslim governments openly disparaged Macron for his actions, some even going as far as calling for a boycott of French products. Macron has vowed to battle extremism and root out violence in France, after last month a teacher was beheaded in Paris for showing a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad during a class on freedom of speech.