Ceremonies held as France is again under high alert after three attacks since September, which have killed four people.
A Pakistani minister has withdrawn comments she made earlier that French President Emmanuel Macron was treating Muslims like Nazis had treated Jews in World War Two.
France’s foreign minister had demanded Pakistan authorities withdraw the comments posted on Twitter by Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari on Saturday.
“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.
The article was however amended earlier on Sunday to reflect the fact that the idea, if implemented, would be applied to all children in France and not just to Muslim children.
In a follow-up tweet on Sunday, Mazari initially doubled down on her claims following a condemnation by France’s foreign ministry late on Saturday, which described them as “blatant lies, imbued with an ideology of hatred and violence”.
Later on Sunday, however, Mazari tweeted: “The article I had cited has been corrected by the relevant publication, I have also deleted my tweet on the same.”
The incident follows anger in Pakistan over the republication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad by satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo.
The images have sparked anger and protests in the Muslim world, especially in Pakistan.
The Prophet is deeply revered by Muslims and any kind of visual depiction of him is forbidden in Islam. The caricatures in question are seen by Muslims as offensive and Islamophobic because they are perceived to link Islam with “terrorism”.
Pakistan’s parliament at the end of October passed a resolution urging the government to recall its envoy from Paris, accusing Macron of “hate-mongering” against Muslims.
In early October, Macron made a speech in which he described Islam as a religion “in crisis” globally and said he would work against “Islamist separatism” in France.
Two weeks later, a French history teacher, Samuel Paty, was beheaded outside his school by an 18-year-old man of Chechen origin for showing the caricatures of the Prophet in a class on freedom of speech.
Macron paid tribute to Paty, refusing to condemn the right to show the caricatures, vowing: “We will not give up cartoons,” and defending France’s strict brand of secularism and its long tradition of satire.
French officials have said the beheading was an assault on the core French value of freedom of expression. The attacks have prompted tougher rhetoric from Macron against what he calls “Islamist separatism”.
Meanwhile, thousands across the Muslim world have protested against Macron and his government, angered by the French leader’s comments on Islam and by renewed official support for the right to show the caricatures.
Some Muslim countries have called for boycotts of French products and a number of international media outlets – as well as allies of France – have been critical of the actions by Macron and his government.