Qureshi to stage silent protest at Paris Masters

Pakistani doubles player Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi will stage a silent protest against French President Macron at Paris Masters

Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi

Pakistan’s top doubles player Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi has said that he will wear a white arm band at this week’s Paris Masters as a form of silent protest against French President Emmanuel Macron’s comments.

Paris, and France, has once again been a target for terrorists. Samuel Paty, a teacher who had shown caricatures of Prophet Mohammed in a class for Freedom of Expression, was beheaded by an Islamist extremist on October 16. In his eulogy, Macron said that, “France will not give up cartoons.”

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The French President was also quoted saying that, “Islam is a religion that is in crisis all over the world” and that Paty was killed “because Islamists want our future.”

On Sunday, Macron said, “‘I will never accept that someone can justify the use of physical violence because of these cartoons.”

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There have been five attacks in Europe, including three in France, in less than two months.

Pakistan player Qureshi, who reached the US Open doubles final in 2010, will be staging a silent protest against the depiction of Prophet Mohammed in the form of controversial cartoons. In Islam, any visual representation of the Prophet is considered offensive.

“The most important and valuable lesson I have learnt as an athlete and a tennis player is to respect all religions, cultures, faiths and beliefs,” 40-year-old Qureshi said via social media.

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“Freedom of speech does not and should not mean freedom to antagonise anyone and disrespect someone’s religion.

“I will be wearing a white armband all this week at Paris Masters as a peaceful protest against the French president who, sadly and disappointingly, is endorsing and encouraging this kind of behaviour where people are allowed to disrespect the religion of Islam and make fun of our Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).”

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Qureshi has urged other athletes to support the cause. The World No 52 (in doubles) is playing with Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Paris Masters.

“I urge not just Muslim athletes but athletes all over the world – who respect other religions – to show solidarity and unity by wearing a white armband and raise awareness that we, as human beings and athletes, can’t accept disrespect and mocking of other religions,” he said.