The senior leadership of the Pakistani church has appealed to France and Turkey to exercise restraint in larger interest of global religious harmony as tension soars between the two countries over the beheading of a French teacher by his Muslim student for showing sacrilegious pictures in class.

“We understand that state secularism is central to France's national identity and also support its stance on freedom of expression. However, ensuring respect for religious beliefs of others is also a collective responsibility and is absolutely critical for global peace and prosperity,” Bishop Dr Azad Marshall, president of the National Council of Churches in Pakistan, said in a statement on Monday. Bishop Marshall said that occurrences of right-wing extremism go against the spirit of any religion and such actions undermine the global aspirations for peaceful co-existence as well as social and inter-faith harmony.

“We strongly condemn the gruesome killing of French teacher Samuel Paty. No person has the right to take the life of another person under any circumstances. But at the same time we urge the country’s leadership to also consider the Islamic point of view on publication of images, which stoke religious sentiments in the Muslims and deepen the inter-faith divisions,” he said.

Seven people, including two students, have been charged over the beheading of Samuel Paty on Oct 16 near Paris. His killer, 18-year-old Abdullakh Anzorov, was shot dead by police shortly after the attack, which took place near Paty's school. Following the incident, French President Emmanuel Macron spoke out forcefully against religious extremism and pledged to defend the country’s secular values. Macron’s remarks, however, drew sharp criticism from his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who questioned the mental health of the French president. In the wake of the “insulting” remarks against the French President, Paris has recalled its ambassador to Turkey for consultations.

"President Erdogan's comments are unacceptable. Excess and rudeness are not a method. We demand that Erdogan change the course of his policy because it is dangerous in every respect," a press statement issued by the French government stated.

The diplomatic spat is latest issue to strain relations between France and Turkey, who are allies under NATO but disagree on a range of geo-political issues, including the civil wars in Syria and Libya, and the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over disputed Nagorno-Karabakh.