Spat comes after Pakistani President Arif Alvi called on Paris to drop the controversial bill, saying the law would discriminate against Muslims.
The French foreign ministry summoned the envoy from Pakistan to protest against claims by President Arif Alvi that a French bill cracking down on what he calls “Islamist extremism” stigmatizes Muslims.
Addressing a conference on religion on Saturday, Alvi said, “When you see laws are changed in favor of a majority to isolate a minority, that’s a dangerous precedent.”
Referring specifically to the legislation drafted after the beheading of a French professor over the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, Alvi said: “When you insult the Prophet, you insult all Muslims.
“I urge French political leaders not to enshrine these attitudes in law… You have to bring people together – not to mark a religion in a certain way and create disagreement among the people or create prejudice.”
Pakistan was one of many Muslim countries that saw angry anti-French protests in October over President Emmanuel Macron’s defense of the right to show cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.
Pakistan, the country with the second largest number of Muslims in the world after Indonesia, does not have an ambassador in France.
The French foreign ministry said Monday evening that it had called the Pakistani charge d’affaires to mark “our surprise and our disapproval (on Alvi’s remarks), given that the bill contains no discriminatory element. “.
“It is guided by the fundamental principles of freedom of religion and conscience, makes no distinction between different religions and therefore applies equally to all religions,” the ministry said.
“Pakistan must understand this and adopt a constructive attitude towards our bilateral relations,” he added.
The bill passed by the lower house of the French parliament last week is dubbed the “anti-separatism” bill in reference to Macron’s claim that “Islamists” are closing themselves off on French society by refusing to adopt secularism, gender equality and other French values. .
The legislation greatly expands the state’s powers to shut down religious organizations and places of worship if they are found to be spreading “theories or ideas” that “cause hatred or violence against a person or person. people”.
It also creates a new crime of “separatism” – described as threatening an official with “full or partial exemption or a different application of the rules” – punishable by five years in prison.
The Pakistani government has been particularly outspoken in its condemnation of Macron’s crackdown, which followed a wave of attacks in recent years on French soil.
In October, Prime Minister Imran Khan accused Macron on Sunday of “attacking Islam” and choosing to “encourage Islamophobia” for defending the right to publish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.