A sarcastic article by a Moroccan blogger about French-style fasting sparked outrage in several Muslim countries when circulated as news while the French president was accused of attacking one the main pillars of Islam.
Owner of the blog called "Alach: Reflections of a Moroccan on what happens in Morocco and the world" posted an article called "Sarkozy proposes French-style fasting" in which he wrote that the French president launched a new project called Ramadan of France.
The project, which the article said was launched in the Marseille Mosque, involves a new type of fasting that involves having a croissant and coffee breakfast before heading for work.
"French Muslims are French before they are Muslims and that is why they cannot give up the French tradition of having coffee and croissants in the morning."
According to the article, Sarkozy said in the speech he delivered at the mosque that according to the fatwa of al-Azhar, the world's leading institution of Sunni Islam, minorities should abide by the rules of the country in which they live.
That is why, the president added, they are allowed to have the French breakfast.
The president, Alach wrote, added that the prayers of French Muslims should not be the same as those living in the Muslim world. The tarawih prayers, performed every Ramadan night after the evening prayers, are therefore unnecessary according to the president.
"I have issued a decree to close all mosques right after the evening prayers so that Muslims can go back home and enjoy watching French T.V.," the president said in his speech.
French Muslims, the president added, should read the Quran in French as part of their pledging allegiance to France.
"I call upon all imams to recite the Quran in French from now on. Muslims in France should also pray in French. We have to make Islam a French religion."
French Muslims are French before they are Muslims and that is why they cannot give up the French tradition of having coffee and croissants in the morning
Comments slamming the French president for his disrespect of Islam kept flowing to the blog and the article was later picked by several websites and newspapers as news.
The Arabic CNN website, the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Dar, and the Jordanian newspaper al-Dostor were amongst the media outlets that took the article seriously and attacked Sarkozy for disrespecting Islamic values.
Al-Azhar scholars lashed out at the French president and accused him of defiling one of the main pillars of Islam. They called for suing him for his "suspicious" projects that target the teachings of Islam.
Following the misunderstanding and the outrage it triggered, the blogger added an introductory part before the article.
"Remark: this article is sarcastic portrayal of an incident that did not happen. Its purpose is tackling the approach of Sarkozy and the French government towards the Muslims minority," he wrote. "Some circulated the article on other websites as a news story."
(Translated from the Arabic by Sonia Farid)
Remark: this article is sarcastic portrayal of an incident that did not happen