China's State TV Shows Prophet Muhammad's Portrait Fueling Ongoing Controversy In France

Following the calls to boycott French products, people criticised Muslim leaders for their selective outrage over the treatment of Muslims.

A Chinese show broadcast on China's state-run channel showed a portrait of Islam's Prophet Muhammad fueling the ongoing controversy over the depiction of the religious leader. This came amid the tensions between France and Muslim-majority countries after President Emmanuel Macron supported caricatures of the prophet following the recent beheading of a teacher by a radical Islamist teen.

Uighur rights activist Arslan Hidayat shared a clip from the Chinese show — a period drama — on Twitter. Providing context to the clip, Hidayat said the drama showed an ambassador from an Arab nation gifting a portrait of the prophet to an emperor from the Tang Dynasty. While presenting the portrait, the ambassador said: "This is the portrait of the God of our country, Muhammad."

Hidayat also opened up a debate on whether Muslim leaders will boycott Chinese products in a similar fashion as they boycotted French products over Macron's statement. China has been widely criticized for its treatment of Uighur Muslims and crackdown on religions in the country. In August, Chinese authorities built a public lavatory on the site of a razed mosque in Xinjiang.

Following the calls to boycott French products, people criticized Muslim leaders for their selective outrage over the treatment of Muslims. Countries such as Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey called for a boycott of French products after Macron said France "will not give up cartoons."

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan said the French president's comments encouraged Islamophobia, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Macron needed "mental check."

China flag

Depiction of the prophet is considered blasphemous in Islam. Netizens questioned why the leaders refused to condemn China for the persecution of Uighur Muslims.

"When Chinese national TV produced a film which insulted our Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) unfortunately Muslims around world kept silent and did not react with protests or speak out against the Chinese government ..Boycott Made In China," one Twitter user wrote.

"Many Muslim countries outraging against France and asking for boycott, that's good. But when it comes to Uyghur Muslims, no one dare to speak against China," another user wrote.

This article was first published on October 29, 2020