Fans urged to show love for Prophet (PBUH) during Morocco v France semi-final

Football fans are being urged to “shake the stands” by sending prayers upon Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) during Wednesday’s semi-final World Cup match between France and Morocco.

The call comes as France’s President Macron is expected to attend the game — and Muslim fans see this as a perfect opportunity to send a message to a country and president that has frequently been accused of Islamophobia.  

Social Media influencer Mahmoud Al Hasanat, who has 500k followers on Twitter, said: “I hope to hear from the Moroccan fans in the France-Morocco match, sending prayers upon the Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, as they shake the stands.”

The sentiment was echoed by former Al Jazeera journalist Boutaina Azzabi Ezzaouia, who commented on another Al Hasanat post about Macron.

“Dear fellow Moroccans raise your voices, saleew 3la Nabi Mohammed, this coming match against France. Let President Emmanuel Macron & his entourage know that we let nobody insult our beloved Prophet,” she said on Instagram.

The posts received positive reception with some saying it is an opportunity to “show Macron the Ummah [Muslim community] he insults”.

The Islamophobia in France

France has the largest Muslim population in western Europe at around 5.7 million. Still, Islamophobia remains a pervasive issue in the country, with Muslims facing discrimination and prejudice on a daily basis.

Critics say the political discourse propels the government to introduce laws that discriminate against Muslims and breach religious freedoms, such as the controversial ‘separatist law.’

Macron himself has not enamoured himself with Muslims. Elected in 2017 to oppose the far-right and be more inclusive and open, many feel he’s made France more inhospitable for Muslims

In October 2020, Macron made a high-profile speech in which he said Islam was “experiencing a crisis.” He also defended xenophobic caricatures about Muslims produced by the French media, stating that France “will not give up cartoons.”

And just before the World Cup, those caricatures resurfaced again.

A cartoon by a French newspaper depicting Qatari footballers as terrorists sparked anger on social media with many calling the image racist and Islamophobic.

The caricature was published by Le Canard enchainé and showed bearded men with “Qatar” written across their chests, carrying machetes, guns and rocket launchers and one even wearing an explosive belt.

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