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Paul Pogba will NOT quit French football team in retaliation to Emmanuel Macron statements on Islam

4 min read

Manchester United star Paul Pogba will reportedly quit playing for France after statements by French president Emmanuel Macron alleging that Islam was the source of international terrorism.

According to various Middle Eastern news sources, the World Cup-winning midfielder, who is a convert to Islam, ‘resigned’ after the comments made by Macron in a highly-controversial speech on Friday. 

Pogba reportedly also resents the French government’s decision to bestow the country’s highest honour on the teacher who had shown images of the prophet Muhammad to schoolchildren in his class before being murdered in a terrorist attack. 

Samuel Paty, 47, was attacked on his way home from the junior high school where he taught in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, 40 kilometres northwest of Paris.

Paul Pogba has reportedly quit playing for France over president Emmanuel Macron's comments that French citizens need protecting 'against this evil that is radical Islam'

Paul Pogba has reportedly quit playing for France over president Emmanuel Macron’s comments that French citizens need protecting ‘against this evil that is radical Islam’

Pogba, a convert to Islam, posted this picture of him visiting Mecca on Instagram in 2019

Pogba, a convert to Islam, posted this picture of him visiting Mecca on Instagram in 2019

Pogba is pictured with Macron (second left) after France won the World Cup in 2018; the president's recent comments, in which he said 'we should attack Islamist separatism', were criticised by some for allegedly stigmatising France's Muslim population

Pogba is pictured with Macron (second left) after France won the World Cup in 2018; the president’s recent comments, in which he said ‘we should attack Islamist separatism’, were criticised by some for allegedly stigmatising France’s Muslim population

Macron's comments came in the wake of the death of French teacher Samuel Paty (pictured), who was beheaded after showing schoolchildren a cartoon of the prophet Muhammad during a lesson

Macron’s comments came in the wake of the death of French teacher Samuel Paty (pictured), who was beheaded after showing schoolchildren a cartoon of the prophet Muhammad during a lesson

He was awarded the French Legion d’honneur, the highest decoration bestowed by the French state, in recognition of the fact that he died trying to explain the importance of freedom of speech.

Macron described the murder as an ‘Islamic terrorist attack’ that took the life of the French teacher and later added: ‘Unity and firmness are the only answers to the monstrosity of Islamist terrorism.’

Pogba’s resignation was published on Sunday in the Arabic sports website, which said that the decision to give the teacher the Legion d’honneur and the comments were the motivation for his decision to stop playing as a French international. 

It said Pogba considered the decision as an insult to him and to French Muslims, especially since Islam is the second religion in France after Christianity. There are an estimated six million Muslims in the country.

Calls are growing meanwhile around the world for people to boycott French goods in the wake of the president’s comments accusing Muslims of separatism and he pledged not to give up cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

Earlier this month, Mr Macron announced plans for tougher laws to tackle what he called ‘Islamist separatism’ in France, which has strong secular values. Macron said France’s Muslims were in danger of forming a ‘counter-society’.

Macron’s comments have also sparked an international diplomatic incident, with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan accusing his counterpart of ‘needing treatment on a mental level’ for pledging to fight Islamic radicalism.

France has recalled its ambassador to Turkey for consultations after Erdogan’s insult.

Pogba kisses the World Cup after helping his nation to glory in Russia in 2018

Pogba kisses the World Cup after helping his nation to glory in Russia in 2018

The Manchester United midfielder has said converting to Islam has made him a better person

The Manchester United midfielder has said converting to Islam has made him a better person

THE BEHEADING OF SAMUEL PATY 

Schoolteacher Samuel Paty was beheaded on Friday 16 October 16 by 18-year-old Abdullakh Anzorov.

Prior to his death, Mr Paty had received threats after he had showed pupils in his class cartoons of the prophet Muhammad on October 6.

Mr Paty had been teaching the children about free speech. His death follows the 2015 terrorist attack at the office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which had published on its cover a cartoon of Muhammad. Twelve people were killed and 11 injured by gunmen.

French president Emmanuel Macron said at Mr Paty’s funeral:

‘He was killed precisely because he incarnated the Republic. He was killed because the Islamists want our future.

‘They know that with quiet heroes like him, they will never have it.’

Mr Paty, a history and geography teacher in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, 40 kilometres northwest of Paris, had advised Muslim students to look away if they thought they might be offended before showing thew class the cartoon.

Islamic tradition explicitly prohibits images of both Allah and the prophet Muhammad, so such images are highly offensive to Muslims. 

He has been posthumously awarded the Legion d’Honneur, France’s highest honour.

Anzorov, was shot dead by police after killing Mr Paty. He was born in Moscow and his family is from Chechnya, a region of Russia with a Muslim-majority population. He had lived in France since 2008.

French prosecutors have said that there is a ‘direct causal link’ between Mr Paty’s death and an organised hate campaign against him.

The campaign was allegedly launched by the 48-year-old father of one of his pupils. The man is accused of issuing a ‘fatwa’ against the teacher, and is alleged to have exchanged texts with Anzorov before the murder. 

Prosecutors say Anzorov paid two teenage students around €300 (£270) to identify Mr Paty before killing him.

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In 2019, Pogba revealed why he converted to Islam – insisting that doing so has made him become a better person.

Asked what being a Muslim meant to him in The Times’ new Life Times podcast, Pogba said: ‘It’s everything. That’s what makes me thankful for everything.

‘It made me change, realise things in life. I guess, maybe, it makes me more peaceful inside.

‘It was a good change in my life because I wasn’t born a Muslim, even if my mum was. I just grew up like that, respect for everyone.

‘Islam is not the image that everyone sees – terrorism… What we hear in the media is really something else, it’s something beautiful.

‘You get to know it. Anybody can find that he feels connected with Islam.’

After being approached for comment on Pogba, the French Football Federation said they have no information on the matter.

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