France’s President Emmanuel Macron’s firm stance for refusing to remove the Satirical cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad (SM) has led to a global boycotting of French products in the Muslim world. The President has made his speech regarding his firm stance on free speech following the murder of French school teacher Samuel Paty by Chechen Muslim immigrant Abdoullakh Abouyedovich Anzorov. The teacher showed his class some of the Charlie Hebdo magazine’s caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad (SM) during one of his classes as an example of free speech and was shortly murdered afterward on 16 October 2020 (BBC, 2020)(Gupta, 2020).

The boycotts have started in Muslim countries around the world, including Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Syria, despite France’s requests to Arab nations to prevent the boycotts (BBC, 2020)(Al Jazeera, 2020). Shelves in supermarkets have been stripped of French products in Muslim countries in the Middle East, while large-scale protests have taken place in support of boycotting French items and products in countries such as Bangladesh(BBC, 2020).

The impact of this global boycotting of French products remains yet to be seen in their entirety. However, Turkey is already suffering some losses from its currency Lira dropping by less than half its value over a short period of time. The international prices for Lira have dropped further after Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of Turkey, called for a public boycotting of French products. This has been the biggest drop of this currency yet, and the Central Bank of Turkey is having problems coping with the rising losses from the rapid currency value drop against the US dollar (USD) (Al Jazeera, 2020). Turkey’s ongoing condition might lead to the country being less desirable for foreign direct investments (FDI) as time passes unless it takes measures to balance its present economic changes (Kelly, 2020).

Trade Between France and Some Muslim Majority Countries.
Source: Daily Sabah

It has been estimated that over 100 billion USD in foreign trade is at risk from this action across the Muslim world, with France at the center of this potential trade deficit (Daily Sabah, 2020). However, the actual impact of this global action is not expected to be significant for international trade profits in the long run. The losses from the boycotts are outweighed by the losses taken from the ongoing global pandemic. It has also been mentioned that similar protests against products of French or Western (for example, Apple products from the US) origin had been undertaken before, with no significant losses in the long run (Haine, 2020).

Among North African countries, no major wave of protests in Morocco has yet gained any ground after prime minister Sâadeddine Othmani had expressed his stance on social media against Macron’s statements. In Tunisia, public expression of indignation against France had taken place after Yassine Ayari, a parliament member, had suggested boycotting the Francophonie Summit. The movements are largely limited to the Middle Eastern countries in the region (Dahmani & Crétois, 2020).

It is to be noted that no country has issued any official declarations of boycotts across their countries. This has been seen as an indication of this current situation being temporary across the world (Daventry, 2020). Proper channels of communication among officials may be ultimately required to stabilize this current global situation. Misunderstood positions on beliefs and the resulting actions and statements that offend other parties will only worsen relations among nations of different ideologies and priorities. Proper and extensive communication may be the key to persuading parties to take proper and culturally, ideologically, and religiously appropriate actions towards peaceful international relations.


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