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​French Ambassador: Islam has nothing to do with terrorism - INTERVIEW

'The Government of Azerbaijan has taken measures to strengthen our security'

Baku. 30 January. REPORT.AZ/ Ambassador of France to Azerbaijan Pascal Meunier gave an interview to Report news agency.

- Will the French policy towards migrants сhange after the terror in Charlie Hebdo magazine's office ?

- In France we would take two kinds of measures.

One important measure is linked to education. French people should understand that what has happened has been accomplished by French citizens. Most of them may have been suffering from frustration, lack of education, even humiliation during their childhood and became the victims of propaganda through social networks of fanaticism, obscurantism.

We recognize that our policy in the field of education has not been efficient enough to prevent this. It is not easy because these people are coming from difficult circles.They live in poor conditions, often they are surrounded by drug traffickers and did not give a lot of attention to their studies. The environment in which they live is not healthy for education. So we have to do some efforts towards this category of people.

Secondly we have to strengthen civic education at schools and create awareness about the differences between religions and fanatics. Some young persons including young women and young girls have been misled by what they read on internet and joined radical movements in Syria through Turkey without knowing exactly what they will really face.

We need also measures to protect ourselves. After terror attacks the government has deployed large number of troops in addition to police forces along the country. Of course this kind of measure can not last long, but it helped to avoid crisis of panic in France. Because the attacks made a destabilizing effect on the society. It is important to find a right balance between security and freedom. We cannot live in a place where there is no more freedom. Because absence of freedom leads to radicalism.

So we try to make our response more efficient, but it will not touch the fundamental freedoms of the people. It is planned for instance to isolate in the prisons the authors of terror attacks in order to protect other prisoners from their influence.

We also have the same concern as Azerbaijan about the return of young French who went to Syria, to Iraq to fight there. So these people, when they come back to France, will be sent to the tribunal in order to be judged. We cannot accept terrorism to come back to France.

- Do you think that the terror attack will affect the Muslim population living in France?

- The Muslim community and its leaders in France have been responsive. Their leadership explained that they are condemning the terror attacks and that it has nothing to do with Islam. And this statementthatwas made in France and other countries is important. The Muslims, the real believers should understand that all the community is aware that Islam has nothing to do with terrorism and the people acting the name of Allah or Islam are just fanatics. Our government explained that our troops deployed in countries such as Mali destabilized by terrorism are the to protect real Muslims, those who live Islam as a religion of respect and peace

We should create common actions for people of different religions via sport, school, and education. It is not easy, it needs will from communities and civil society because the government cannot urge for that, cannot do that instead of them.

- Was the security measures of French Embassy in Azerbaijan strengthened after the terrorist attack in Paris?

- When the attack happened the Government of Azerbaijan has taken measures to strengthen our security. I remember when I came back from Paris on 15 of January the Embassy was surrounded by 4 police guards. Since that time we asked the Government to protect not only the Embassy but also the French buildings including French school in Baku. They did it and I am very grateful for that. We feel safe and secure and we don’t meet any problem. There has been a small demonstration in front of the Embassy after the publication of new edition of Charlie Hebdo magazine.

I also have been informed that there has been some demonstration in Nardaran where they burned the flag of France, the US and Israel.

Commenting that, I would say that freedom of expression is something that is sacred, it is holy principle for us. So I don’t have any complain about the people who wants to express discontent to the fact that some magazine has offended them. People can demonstrate showing that they do not agree, but violence of course is not admitted. In France we make distinction between freedom of expression, freedom of religion and crimes. For us freedom of expression includes mockery of religions. France did not include blasphemy as a crime, if we would do that it will put the finger into a mechanism, which will seriously impact the principle of freedom of expression.

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