In a recent interview with The New York Times, French President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronEU 'denounces' Russian malicious cyber activity aimed at member states French diplomat says 'time and actions' needed to restore ties with US France to bill Australia over canceled submarine deal MORE accused English-language media of being biased against France, saying the press characterizes his country as racist and legitimizes the extremist violence it is facing.
“When France was attacked five years ago, every nation in the world supported us,” Macron said to New York Times reporter Ben Smith during a phone call this month, adding that the English-language press imposes its own values on a society with different ones.
Macron is referring to the 2015 shooting at the headquarters of satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo after it published a satirical depiction of the Prophet Muhammad, which goes against Islamic beliefs. The attack brought up ongoing debates over free speech and religious sensitivity.
“So when I see, in that context, several newspapers which I believe are from countries that share our values — journalists who write in a country that is the heir to the Enlightenment and the French Revolution — when I see them legitimizing this violence, and saying that the heart of the problem is that France is racist and Islamophobic, then I say the founding principles have been lost,” Macron.
On Oct. 16, French teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded after showing his class the satirical Charlie Hebdo cartoons. Macron defended the move as a free speech right, causing protests to break out in Muslim-majority countries. Thousands of demonstrators in Pakistan and Lebanon marched in protest of Macron’s statements.
After Paty was killed, Macron responded aggressively, cracking down on Muslims accused of extremism and carrying out raids. His response has drawn criticism from Muslim world leaders, with Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan calling for a boycott of French goods.
As the Times reports, more than 250 people have died in terror reports in France since 2015, more than any other Western country.
Macron claims that foreign media, including from the U.S., fail to understand France's secularism. Recently, Macron has called for an end to “Islamist separatism,” which he characterized as rules being allowed to override those of the French government and society.