A prominent United Arab Emirates minister has called on Muslims to accept the stance of French President Emmanuel Macron on his claims about the need for “integration” in Western societies.
“[Muslims] have to listen carefully to what Macron said in his speech. He doesn’t want to isolate Muslims in the West, and he is totally right,” Anwar Gargash, minister of state for foreign affairs, said in an interview on Monday with the German daily Die Welt.
He said Muslims “need to be integrated in a better way” in Western nations.
“The French state has the right to search for ways to achieve this in parallel with combating extremism and societal closure,” he added.
Gargash rejected accusations against the French president that he seeks to exclude Muslims living in France.
‘Freedom to draw’
The Emirati minister’s statements come amid ongoing protests in the Arab and Muslim world against Macron’s remarks on Islam, in which he accused Muslims of “separatism” and defended publishing the controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
Following intense boycott campaigns of French products across the Arab and Muslim world, Macron lowered his tone and said he understood the feelings of Muslims over the cartoons.
“I understand the sentiments being expressed and I respect them,” the French president said in an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera on Saturday.
“But you must understand my role right now, it’s to do two things: to promote calm and also to protect these rights,” Macron said.
“I will always defend in my country the freedom to speak, to write, to think, to draw,” he added.