French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was in Egypt Sunday hoping to ease tensions following the publishing of provocative cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that sparked ire in the Muslim world.
Le Drian met with President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and will also meet Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al-Azhar, Egypt's highest Muslim authority.
Le Drian's highly anticipated meeting with Tayeb, head of Al-Azhar – considered the foremost religious institution for Sunni Muslims – will tackle French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo's decision in September to reprint the cartoons.
Last month Tayeb denounced remarks by French President Emmanuel Macron of "Islamist separatism" as "racist" and spreading "hate speech."
"I have emphasized, and emphasize here the deep respect we have for Islam," said the French minister during a press conference with Shoukry.
Macron's attitude against Islam, the republication of caricatures insulting the Muslim Prophet Muhammad and their projection on the walls of buildings have triggered demonstrations and calls for a boycott of French products in many Muslim countries.
Following intense boycotting campaigns of French products across the Arab and Muslim world, Macron, in an interview with Al Jazeera, lowered his tone and said he understands Muslims' sentiments over the cartoons.
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