Prime Minister Imran Khan Sunday said that by encouraging the display of blasphemous caricatures targeting Islam and Holy Prophet (PBUH), French President Macron has chosen to deliberately provoke Muslims, including his own citizens. “It is unfortunate that he has chosen to encourage Islamophobia by attacking Islam rather than the terrorists who carry out violence, be it Muslims, White Supremacists or Nazi ideologists,” the prime minister remarked in a series of tweets. He said the hallmark of a leader is to unite the human beings as has been done by Nelson Mandela, rather than dividing them. He said this is the time when President Macron could have put healing touch and denied space to extremists rather than creating further polarisation and marginalisation that inevitably led to radicalization. “Sadly, President Macron has chosen to deliberately provoke Muslims, including his own citizens, through encouraging the display of blasphemous cartoons targeting Islam & our Prophet PBUH,” he said. The prime minister said that by attacking Islam, clearly without having any understanding of it, the French president has attacked and hurt the sentiments of millions of Muslims in Europe as well as across the world. “The last thing the world wants or needs is further polarisation. Public statements based on ignorance will create more hate, Islamophobia & space for extremists,” he added. The French president is being criticised with protests breaking out in several cities across the world after Macron accused Muslims of separatism and vowed not to give up blasphemous cartoons depicting the Holy Prophet (PBUH). His comments came in response to the beheading of a teacher, Samuel Paty, a 47-year-old teacher, who was attacked on his way home from the junior high school where he taught in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, 40 kilometres northwest of Paris. The teacher had shown cartoons disrespecting Holy Prophet (PBUH), according to media reports. France has recently stepped up measures in the country which its Muslim community views as anti-Islam. The French government has said it fears militancy is taking over some Muslim communities in the country. The French government is considering proposals to restrict funds that Muslim communities in the country receive from abroad. The government also wants to create a certificate program for French-trained imams, as well as other things. The French Interior Ministry announced that its officials will target for possible dissolution 50 French Muslim associations if they are found guilty of promoting hatred. The list of names includes that of a mainstream group that aims to battle Islamophobia. His statement of wanting to build “an Islam in France that can be an Islam of the Enlightenment,” has caused anger and restlessness in Muslims across the world. Prime Minister Imran Khan is the second prominent Muslim leader to slam Macron for his anti-Muslim statements and policies. Turkish President Erdogan earlier lashed out at the French president, suggesting that he required ‘mental treatment’. The statement was not well received by France as the country recalled its ambassador. “Outrage and insult are not a method,” Macron’s office had said. “What is the problem of this person called Macron with Muslims and Islam? Macron needs treatment on a mental level,” Erdogan said in a speech in the central Turkish city of Kayseri. “What else can be said to a head of state who does not understand freedom of belief and who behaves in this way to millions of people living in his country who are members of a different faith?” Erdogan added. Nayef Falah Mubarak Al-Hajraf, secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council, called Macron’s words “irresponsible”, and said they would “increase the spread of a culture of hatred”. Jordan’s foreign ministry said it condemns the “continued publication of caricatures under the pretext of freedom of expression” and any “discriminatory and misleading attempts that seek to link Islam with terrorism”.