Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb* (AQMI) has called on followers to kill any person who insults the prophet Mohammad, and threatened French President Emmanuel Macron over comments he made about Islam and controversial Charlie Hebdo caricatures depicting the important religious figure.
"Killing anyone who insults the prophet is the right of each and every Muslim," Agence France Press news agency quoted a statement purportedly made by the terrorist outlet.
AQMI said that a boycott of French products was "a duty" but noted that the measure was not enough to avenge for Macron’s statements. The group described the French leader as a "young and unexperienced [sic]" person, who has "little brain" and also claimed that he "insisted on offending the prophet".
Relations between France and portions of the Muslim world have recently soured following the murder of a school teacher in a Paris suburb. The attacker, an 18-year-old Muslim immigrant, beheaded Samuel Paty after he learned that the 47-year-old was showing caricatures of Islam's key prophet, Muhammad, to his pupils during lessons concerning freedom of speech.
Islam’s holy book, the Quran, does not say anything about depictions of Allah or or the prophet Muhammad, nevertheless, hardline and extremist Muslims oppose the caricatures. Satire of Islam or its representatives is considered 'blasphemous' and in some fundamentalist theocracies is punishable by death.
Macron condemned the killing of the teacher, whom he described as a "hero" who embodied the values of France and posthumously awarded him the country’s highest civilian honour - the Légion d'Honneur. In a memorial speech Macron defended Paty’s decision to show the caricatures of the key Islamic figure, stating that the teacher's decision is protected under France’s right to free speech.
"We will continue, teacher. We will defend the freedom that you taught so well", Macron told the 400 guests attending the memorial service.
Macron's statement, as well as the decision to project caricatures on government buildings across France, caused an uproar in some Muslim countries. Large-scale protests were held in Bangladesh, Lebanon and Malaysia. Pakistan's prime minister, Imran Khan, called Macron’s comments divisive, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan asserted that the French leader needs "mental checks".
Pakistan and Turkey have also called for a boycott on French products.
*Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is designated a terrorist group in Russia and many other countries.