October 30, 2020 - 5:12pm

With the help of a gutless (but confused) Anglo press and clever rhetorical sleight of hand, Muslim leaders like Turkey’s President Erdogan and Pakistan’s Imran Khan took no time in turning France into the villain.

Almost immediately after the killings, #NeverTheProphet was trending alongside #Islamophobia. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, made up of 57-member states formalised the boycott of French goods that was already spreading across the Islamic world.

The former Malaysian PM tweeted that “Muslims have the right to be angry and to kill millions of French people for the massacres of the past”.

In the UK, Roshan Salih, editor of the website 5Pillarstweeted: “The Muslim world is rising up in outrage at the actions of the barbaric, racist, Islamophobic French state. Alhamdulilah”. The same publication’s deputy editor tweeted: “Western states, namely France in this case, should consider themselves very fortunate that in the absence of a Muslim ruler who yields enough global collective clout and backbone hasn’t declared war on them”.

A little before the attack on the church, the Turkish Minister for Culture and Tourism tweeted at Charlie Hebdo “Vous êtes des bâtards.. Vous êtes des fils des chiennes..”  (‘you are bastards, you are sons of bitches’). The Turkish Ministry of Defence accused the country of Islamophobia, while Khan spoke of Macron ‘provoking’ Muslims.

Yet these leaders are wrapping up their aggression in a language of hurt feelings. France is the intolerant one, and they are the victims.

‘Islamophobia’, as is so often the case, is being used as a byword for blasphemy, as — on principle — Macron refused to disavow the cartoons or drawings “even if others recoil”.

In reality, these Muslim leaders are trying to bully and blackmail France into relinquishing the sacred values of the Republic — laïcité, freedom of thought, conscience, freedom to think and decide for yourself. Values without which France would cease to be France.

Macron stands defiant, but if he were to respond in a similarly infantile way, he might ask ‘I know you are but what am I?’

Turkey locks up political opponents and journalists and has sought to prosecute Europeans (including its own citizens) for insulting the president. Erdogan has said that Jerusalem is a Turkish city, but claims it is Macron who needs a “mental check”. He recently turned one of the the most symbolic former churches in Christendom — the Hagia Sofia — into a mosque.

Pakistan executes people for blasphemy, like the Christian sentenced to death last month for making derogatory remarks about Muhammed in a text message. On issues like censorship, Khan is keen to extend beyond his borders under the guise of ‘islamophobia’.

The hypocrisy is glaring. If anything, the insistence by these cynical leaders that France must give up the sacred values of the Republic or else is intolerant and, even we might say, Francophobic.

Emma Webb is Director of the Forum on Integration, Democracy and Extremism at the Civitas think tank.