About a week after the murder of the French teacher, UT-Muslims published a message on their Instagram account. The student association reacted to the aftermath of the murder, including the response of President Macron. His statement led to a boycott of French products. ‘We would like to inform why Muslim countries are boycotting French products', they write in their Instagram post. ‘The President of France has disrespected our religion, by supporting cartoons that humiliate our prophet.’
According to the board of the association, which responded to questions from U-Today by e-mail, they wanted to inform their members about the boycott. ‘As a Muslim association, we cannot say if we are supporting the boycott or not, because this is a political issue. As an association, we are politically neutral. We only used the hashtag boycottfrance, because we were informing our public about this trend.’
Muslims felt ‘unsafe’ following the events in France, the board stresses. ‘Normally, we would not post anything about any political issue. However, with the incident regarding two Muslim women in Paris, which was followed by increasing Islamophobia, we wanted to post about this topic to inform our community.’ In their reply to U-Today they further emphasise that: ‘The right response to France based on Islamic principles is a boycott and not violence.’
Photo: a screenshot of the image that accompanies the message on Instagram.
With the message, the association wanted to ‘prevent prejudice’ against Muslims, the board explains. ‘Usually, we organize lectures about Islam and Islamic values to fight against Islamophobia. This time we decided to share an informative post. We want to create an environment of tolerance and increased understanding among people within our reach, specifically at the UT and in Enschede. We believe that only contextual understanding, not generalization, can bring society forward.’
In the post on Instagram, the association disapproves of the murder of the French teacher. ‘We hereby do not justify the terrible act of the eighteen-year-old boy. But this act is not a valid reason to humiliate the prophet. Given that Islam respects every single religion.’ In their response to U-Today they underline this message. ‘The boy decided to do this on his own. Which means that he has to be punished for murder by the law. Morally and according to the law this is the way you correctly punish a murderer. There was no need for all the extras, which only led to increasing Islamophobia not only in France but also across Europe.’
The murder of the French history teacher is still echoing, also in the Netherlands, where a teacher had to go into hiding because of a cartoon hanging on the wall in his classroom. When asked about the post of UT-Muslims, the UT Executive Board responded as follows: ‘Freedom of expression is a core value and an important pillar of the academic community. Any action that undermines that freedom does not have our support. Where opinions and views differ, conversation is the only right thing to do.’