Saudi Arabia, birthplace of Islam, on Tuesday condemned cartoons offending the Prophet Mohammad and any attempts to link Islam with terrorism but did not echo calls by other Muslim states for action against images being displayed in France of the Prophet.
A foreign ministry official also said in a statement that the Gulf state condemns all acts of terrorism, in an apparent reference to the beheading of a teacher in Paris this month by an Islamist radical avenging the use of cartoons of the Prophet in a class on freedom of expression.
“Freedom of expression and culture should be a beacon of respect, tolerance and peace that rejects practices and acts which generate hatred, violence and extremism and are contrary to coexistence,” said the statement carried by state media.
The images of the Prophet have sparked anger in the Muslim world with Turkey’s leader calling for a boycott of French goods and Pakistan’s parliament passing a resolution urging the government to recall its envoy from Paris.
In Saudi Arabia, calls for a boycott of French supermarket chain Carrefour were trending on social media, though two main stores Reuters visited in Riyadh on Monday seemed as busy as normal. A company representative in France said it had yet to feel any impact.
United Arab Emirates-based Majid Al Futtaim, which owns and operates Carrefour supermarkets across the Middle East, said the chain supported regional economies by sourcing a majority of items from local suppliers and employing thousands of people.
“We understand that there is some concern among consumers across the region at present and we are monitoring the situation closely,” it said in a statement sent to Reuters on Monday.
In neighbouring Kuwait, some supermarkets have pulled French products under a directive of a cooperative union.
In Iran the Foreign Ministry has summoned the French charge d’affaires over alleged insults against Islam’s Prophet Mohammad, Iranian state broadcaster IRIB reported on Tuesday.
A ministry official told the diplomat during their meeting on Monday that Iran strongly rejected “any insult and disrespect to the Prophet of Islam…, and Islam’s pure values of Islam by any person regardless of their position”, IRIB said on its social media feed.
The move came in reaction to remarks by French President Emmanuel Macron perceived to be critical of Islam.