The bilateral relationship between France and Pakistan came under added strain on Saturday when Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari’s tweeted a controversial claim about the French Presi­dent Emmanuel Macron and French policies against Muslims.

“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,” Mazari had said in a tweet linking to an online article.

France took strong exception to the minister’s tweet, with France’s Foreign Ministry releasing a statement on Saturday saying that the minister spoke in “deeply shocking and insulting terms” of Macron and the whole of France.

“These hateful words are blatant lies, imbued with an ideology of hatred and violence,” it said. “Such slander is unworthy of this level of responsibility. We reject them with the greatest firmness.”

The diplomatic crisis only simmered down when the author of the original article issued a clarification stating that their reporting had been incorrect, following which Shireen Mazari retracted her statements and deleted her tweet.

“An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that ID numbers would be exclusively for Muslim children in France. This has been amended to reflect the fact that the draconian measures within the bill will be in place for all children in Macron’s bid to fight against what he has declared as ‘Islamist separatism’. We sincerely apologise for earlier error in reporting the facts of this story,” says the clarification posted on the website.

On Sunday, Mazari tweeted: “The article I had cited has been corrected by the relevant publication, I have also deleted my tweet on the same.”

The strain between France and Pakistan wont be mended easily however. Pakistani Cabinet members continue to criticise French actions, and the National Assembly recently passed a unanimous resolution urging the government to recall its ambassador from Paris and condemning Macron for “hate-mongering” against Muslims.

Calls for boycott of French products have been made at various protests; with the recent one being led by the late Khadim Hussain Rizvi being the most prominent. While Pakistani authorities have resisted the call so far, they might be forced to act if public pressure gets to forceful; putting extensive bilateral imports and exports in jeopardy.


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