France demands that Pakistan withdraws Macron Nazi jibe

Row escalates over images of the Prophet Mohammed by a French magazine

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a visit to the 2020 Phoneton, an annual fundraising operation organised by the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund's French affiliate (Fonds Armenien de France) for the development of Armenia and Artsakh, in Paris, France November 21, 2020. Picture taken November 21, 2020. Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS

France's foreign ministry is demanding that Pakistan withdraws comments made by one of its ministers that President Emmanuel Macron was treating Muslims like the Nazis had treated Jews in the Second World War.

The comments were posted on Twitter on Saturday by Pakistan's Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari.

The re-publication of images of the Prophet Mohammed by a French magazine in September sparked anger and protests in the Muslim world, especially in Pakistan.

"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," Ms Mazari tweeted.

In a follow-up tweet on Sunday, Ms Mazari restated her claims after a condemnation by France's foreign ministry late on Saturday.

"These hateful words are blatant lies, imbued with an ideology of hatred and violence," said France's foreign ministry spokeswoman, Agnes von der Muhll.

"Such slander is unworthy of this level of responsibility. We reject them with the greatest firmness."

She said that Paris had informed the Pakistan embassy of its strong condemnation of the comments.

"Pakistan must rectify these remarks and return to the path of a dialogue based on respect," she said.

After the latest remarks, Ms Mazari later deleted her earlier tweet.

Pakistan's parliament at the end of October passed a resolution urging the government to recall its envoy from Paris, accusing Mr Macron of "hate-mongering" against Muslims.

Mr Macron had paid tribute to a French history teacher who was beheaded by an 18-year-old man of Chechen origin for showing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in a class on freedom of speech.

French officials called the beheading an assault on the core French value of freedom of expression.

After satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in September re-published the cartoons it first published in 2015, Mr Macron said the freedom to blaspheme went hand in hand with the freedom of belief in France.