France’s foreign minister in Egypt after cartoon controversy: Source
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was in Egypt Sunday hoping to ease tensions following the publishing of controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that sparked ire in the Arab world.
A diplomatic source said Le Drian would meet President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al-Azhar, Egypt’s highest Muslim authority.
Le Drian “will pursue the appeasement process” started by President Emmanuel Macron, the French foreign ministry said in a statement.
The Cairo-based Al-Azhar condemned French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo’s decision in September to reprint the cartoons.
Read more: Grand imam of Egypt’s al-Azhar calls for end to anti-Muslim actions
And last month Tayeb denounced remarks by Macron in “Islamist separatism” as “racist” and spreading “hate speech.”
Demonstrations have erupted in several Muslim-majority countries after Macron defended the right to publish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, which many saw as insulting and an attack on Islam.
Macron’s remarks came after a suspected extremist decapitated a schoolteacher in a Paris suburb on October 16, after he showed the cartoons during a lesson on freedom of expression.
Sisi himself had weighed in, saying last month that “to insult the prophets amounts to underestimating the religious beliefs of many people.”
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