France's interior minister denounced racist comments Saturday and defended his greetings to French Muslims commemorating the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan.
Gerald Darmanin took to social media to post a message condemning "ordinary racism" for his tweet April 1 that wished all Muslims in France a "happy Ramadan."
"Yesterday I wished a happy Ramadan to our Muslim compatriots. Since then, many comments, a bit racist, evoked that I did not wish a happy birthday to Christians or Jews. This is obviously wrong," wrote Darmanin, adding links to his previous greetings for Christmas, Easter, Hanukkah and Rosh Hashanah celebrations.
"I hope those who share this fake information with an extremist mind apologize for these unjust attacks. In the meantime, yes, happy Ramadan," he added.
His Ramadan greeting tweet in question was liked by 125,000 users and retweeted more than 3,500 times, as of late Saturday.
The more than 3,100 responses to the tweet include those that accused him of hypocrisy, while others criticized the minister for violating the principle of secularism and for attempting to woo Muslims ahead of the upcoming presidential elections on April 10.
"Did you also wish a Happy Lent to all Catholics? The beginning of Lent was on March 02 for your information and I did not see any electoral tweet on the subject," said user @GabyChris54.
"I didn't know that France was a Muslim country. It's new, it just came out," said @Amarelysfleur.
Addressing the minister by his Algerian Muslim middle name, @Lalluzze, said: "Thanks, Moussa. Know that the State and the Church have been separated in France since 1905. As a member of the government, you must respect the principle of secularism."
French journalist and activist Sihame Assbague, said: "Coming from a minister who has energetically participated in the criminalization, repression and/or dissolution of a number of Muslim figures and structures & who never ceases to feed the colonial management of Muslim culture, it's damn cheeky all the same."
As the head of the Interior Ministry under the government of President Emmanuel Macron, Darmanin is known for implementing policies to fight those with "separatist" ideologies.
He pushed for controversial legislation dubbed the anti-separatism law and known officially as "reinforcing the respect of the principles of the Republic," adopted in July 2021. The law has been criticized for singling out Muslims.