In Brief

Explained: Emmanuel Macron’s dispute with Pakistan over school IDs for Muslim children

France demands apology for ‘blatant lies’ following Pakistani minister’s ‘Nazi’ allegations

A Pakistani minister has withdrawn comments comparing Emmanuel Macron’s treatment of Muslims to the Nazis persecution of Jews during the Second World War, following outrage from Paris.

France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian had demanded the immediate deletion of the tweeted claims by Islamad’s Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari about new rules requiring children at French schools to have ID numbers.

In the since-deleted post, Mazari had written 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”.

 Mazari linked to an article on The Muslim Vibe media platform that also claimed - incorrectly - that the ID numbers would only be given to Muslim children. The article has since been amended. 

Macron proposed the ID rollout as part of a ban on home-schooling in a “push to clamp down on radical Islam” following a string of terror attacks on French soil, Politico reports. The schools plan is part of a proposed “charter of republican values” and will apply to all children, not just Muslims.  

Parents who home-school their children “will face up to six months in jail” under legislation in a bill unveiled last week, adds The Times. More than 50,000 children are currently home-schooled in France and the new rules are “an attempt to prevent them from falling under the influence of religious radicals”, the newspaper reports.

Responding to Mazari’s Nazi comparisons, a spokesperson for the French Foreign Ministry said that “these despicable words are blatant lies, loaded with an ideology of hatred and violence”.  

“Such slanderous comments are disgraceful at such level of responsibility” and are “deeply shocking and insulting”, the spokesperson added.

But Mazari and The Muslim Vibe were not alone in suggesting that Macron’s plan only extended to Muslim children. 

Karen Attiah, the global opinions editor at The Washington Post, also sparked anger by tweeting that Macron “wants to give Muslim kids IDs to go to school”. Attiah later apologised for the error, but added: “To act like Macron isn’t stoking Islamophobia is simply folly.”

Macron has committed to confronting Islamism in France in the wake of the series of high-profile terrorist attacks in his country. 

In October, Macron described Islam as a religion “in crisis” globally and vowed to work against “Islamist separatism” in France.

Two weeks later, history teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded outside his Paris school for showing caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed during a lesson about freedom of speech.

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