Sheikh Ali Al-Yousuf of the International Union of Muslim Scholars said in an October 18, 2020 interview on Channel 9 (Turkey) that from the perspective of Islamic law, one cannot say that the Chechen teen who recently beheaded French history teacher Samuel Paty is guilty of a serious crime. Rather, he said that the teen's transgression was that he took it upon himself to carry out the death penalty for insulting the Prophet Muhammad, while the sentence should be carried out by a shari'a court in an Islamic state. Sheikh Al-Yousuf said that people should focus on the fact that Paty had been teaching people to "hate" the Prophet Muhammad, and he argued that France is undergoing a crisis, since "Islam is growing because of its moral values." He added that Muslims in France should integrate into French society because French people would not hate Islam if they were familiar with its virtues. He also speculated that Samuel Paty would not have acted as he had if he had been familiar with the qualities of the Prophet Muhammad.
Sheikh Ali Al-Yousuf: "Anyone who follows what is happening in France – the attacks against Islam and Muslims, and especially what we have seen lately – will see that there is an obvious media, political, cultural, and ideological campaign against Islam, Muslims, and the Prophet Muhammad, against every Muslim individual, as well as Muslim symbols, like the hijab. All this is crystal clear – it is called Islamophobia. Now they want to scare [people] away from Islam, because it is the second [largest] religion in France, and it is the number one religion in Europe, in France [sic], and therefore it must be attacked, along with its symbols. So they do not want Islam to advance in those places.
"I would like to say that in light of all these actions, we must take a look at those who incite and distort and those who attack our Prophet Muhammad, in a country that claims to be secular and democratic, a country that claims to respect human rights, religions, opinions, and ideas. I do not know what kind of respect this is with this cursing, insulting, and attacking of Islamic symbols. This is the problem, before we talk about this act [murder of Samuel Paty] – its judgement according to the shari'a and our opinion about it... We must firmly focus on all the hostile and disgraceful actions that have been directed against Muslims for many years, actions supported by the government and extremists in France and elsewhere that were meant to distort Islam's image in the West."
Interviewer: "You spoke about the shari'a ruling regarding a person who curses the Prophet. You said that such a person should be killed, and the only question is who should carry this out. No one has the right to carry out this ruling by himself. In this specific case that took place in France, according to the shari'a, a Muslim who is confronted with such a case, and gets angry – it is only natural that he would get angry because of the insult to the Prophet Muhammad... What is the ruling of the shari'a in such a case?"
Al-Yousuf: "As I told you, if it is proven that the person who did this is a Chechen Muslim, and he did this out of anger because of the violation of the Prophet Muhammad's honor, and if he indeed was a Muslim who did this in defense of the Islamic shari'a, then we let Allah be his judge. We could never say that he committed a serious crime or something that he should be punished for according to the shari'a, because his [only] offense was that he carried out the ruling by himself, and according to our shari'a, the punishment should be carried out by the Islamic state.
"He may have carried out the punishment mandated by Islamic jurisprudence, but the punishment must not be carried out by just any individual. Therefore, we let Allah be his judge. We need to focus on the reason that brought him to do what he did. The reason is that this history teacher, this Samuel, started teaching how to hate the Prophet Muhammad. This is what brought this person to do what he did.
"Those who were killed in France throughout the years, those who were killed by France... If France killed more than a million people in Algeria, even six million... They killed and slaughtered millions of people. Why are these acts never noticed? Why don't we ask: 'Why are they insulting the Prophet Muhammad?' Why does the French president say that Islam is in crisis? He is defaming Islam and the shari'a. Why are they doing all this?
"It is crystal clear that they are undergoing a real crisis. Their crisis is that Islam is growing because of its moral values and because of how [Muslims] interact and conduct themselves in the West. Muslims in the West have succeeded in becoming a part of life [there]. People have begun converting to Islam. They [i.e. the West] are very much afraid of that."
Interviewer: "Sheikh Ali, what must Muslims in France do, in light of the recurring attacks against the Prophet Muhammad, against Islam and Muslims, and the patent accusations of terrorism against them?"
Al-Yousuf: "I think that first of all, Muslims in France and in the West must be wise, and they must evaluate the outcome of matters, and the interest of Muslims in those lands. They should not react in ways that might cause a great amount of harm to Muslims in those countries. They have to make use of all the legal possibilities that they have in the West.
"They have to integrate into French society more and more, so that French society comprehends the nature of Islam and the Muslims. I am entirely convinced that if the French become familiar with Islam, they will not be hostile towards it. Even that historian, Samuel, who spoke about the Prophet Muhammad, if he had only known about the good qualities and moral values of the Prophet Muhammad, he would not have done what he did. Therefore, Muslims must introduce the French and [other] Westerners to our religion with all its virtues. If that happens, then no one will attack Islam and the Muslims. I must say that there is neglect in this respect. Presenting Islam in its right form is being neglected."