Paris raps Pak. over Alvi remarks on French Bill

The French Foreign Ministry has summoned Pakistan’s envoy to protest against claims by President Arif Alvi that a French Bill cracking down on radical Islam stigmatises Muslims.

Addressing a conference on religion on Saturday, Mr. Alvi said: “When you see that laws are being changed in favour of a majority to isolate a minority, that is a dangerous precedent.”

Specifically referring to the legislation drafted after the beheading of a French teacher by an Islamist radical over cartoons of Prophet Muhammed, Mr. Alvi said: “When you insult the Prophet, you insult all Muslims.”

“I urge the political leadership of France not to entrench these attitudes into laws… You have to bring people together — not to stamp a religion in a certain manner and create disharmony among the people or create bias.”

The French Foreign Ministry said late on Monday it had called in Pakistan’s Charge d’Affaires to mark “our surprise and our disapproval (over Mr. Alvi’s remarks), given that the Bill contains no discriminatory element”.

“It is guided by the basic principles of freedom of religion and conscience, makes no distinction between the different religions and applies therefore equally to all faiths,” the Ministry said. “Pakistan must understand this and adopt a constructive attitude for our bilateral relations,” it added.

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