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Chechen leader: Macron's stance on Muhammad cartoons 'forcing people into terrorism'
The leader of Chechnya said Tuesday that French President Emmanuel Macron was "forcing people into terrorism" by justifying that caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad were protected under free speech rights.
Ramzan Kadyrov, a trusted ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, addressed Macron's statement after the French president warned citizens living or traveling in Muslim-majority countries to be cautious due to anger over caricatures of the prophet, Reuters reported.
Macron's warning came just days following a deadly knife beheading outside a French school on Oct. 16, killing a teacher who previously taught his class a lesson on freedom of speech.
The teacher, Samuel Paty, referenced the Prophet Muhammad caricatures published in the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in 2015, which resulted in armed shooters attacking the magazine's office and killing 12 people five years ago.
Depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a caricature or in any context that lacks respect is seen as blasphemous by many Muslims.
Macron vowed for swift action in the investigations into Paty's killing, calling him a "quiet hero" and pledging to fight against what he calls "Islamist Separatism" in France.
Kadyrov posted on social media Tuesday condemning Macron's response to the teacher's display that the president called a defense of free speech, Reuters reported.
"You are forcing people into terrorism, pushing people towards it, not leaving them any choice, creating the conditions for the growth of extremism in young people's heads," Kadyrov wrote on Instagram, addressing Macron.
"You can boldly call yourself the leader and inspiration of terrorism in your country," Kadyrov added.
Kadyrov is an ex-rebel who endorsed a Kremlin military campaign that defeated an Islamist insurgency in Chechnya. He is the son of the former Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov.
He reportedly downplayed that the man who beheaded the teacher was of Chechen origin, saying he grew up in France.
An official for the France's presidential administration denounced Kadyrov's statement.
"We won't be intimidated and we put on notice those who sow hatred, which, in Kadyrov's case, is unacceptable," the administration told Reuters.