French Muslims reacted with horror at Thursday’s killing of three citizens in the seaside town of Nice, saying the crime is representative of neither their faith nor values.
The attack, which took place inside a church, is the third of its kind in a little over a month and comes amid heightened tensions between Muslim countries and France.
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Several calls to boycott French goods were made last week after President Emmanuel Macron defended the right to caricature Prophet Muhammad.
Macron’s comments came after the brutal killing of Samuel Paty, a middle school teacher who showed his pupils drawings of the prophet during a discussion on free speech.
Yasser Louati, a French civil rights activist, said perpetrators of such crimes make no distinction between Muslims and Christians and subscribed to an ideology alien to Islam.
“A woman was beheaded inside a church, this means these people have nothing to do with the sacred. There are no moral boundaries for them,” Louati told Al Jazeera.
“About 750 people were killed in mosques across the world, why can’t we connect the dots and see that this ideology has been spreading that we lost so far the battle of ideas.
“We deal with these attacks as if they were separate from one another when they are not.”
‘Sinking into madness’
Idriss Sihamedi, an activist whose prominent Barakacity charity was dissolved by authorities on Wednesday over allegations it incited hatred, denounced the knife attack.
“These attacks are serious, and the fact this is happening in places where people come to seek peace makes it doubly serious,” he said in a tweet.
“Support for the families of the victims, but also for the faithful. France is sinking into madness, hatred, anger, and revenge.”
Ces attaques sont graves, et le fait que cela se produise dans des lieux où les gens viennent chercher la paix est doublement grave. Soutien aux familles des victimes, mais aussi aux fidèles.
La France sombre dans la folie, la haine, la colère et la vengeance.
Tout est sombre.
— Idriss Sihamedi (@IdrissSihamedi) October 29, 2020
Meanwhile, Faiza Ben Mohammed, a journalist, thought it useful to remind her huge social media following of the prophet’s championing of values such as peace and coexistence.
Le Prophète Mohammed a dit : « Celui qui fait du mal à un Juif ou à un Chrétien trouvera en moi son adversaire au Jour du Jugement » #Nice06
— Feïza Ben Mohamed 🧕🏼 (@FeizaBM) October 29, 2020
“The Prophet Muhammad said: ‘Whoever harms a Jew or Christian will find in me his adversary on the Day of Judgement.”
Fatima Ouassak of the parents’ syndicate Front de Mères expressed sympathy for the victims’ families, saying it was important for people to stand in solidarity in these trying times.
“[We are] against the hate-makers responsible for the infernal cycle and the climate of terror of which we are victims, let’s stick together! Solidarity, equality, justice and respect for human dignity.”
Condoléances aux proches des victimes de l’attaque au couteau à Nice 🤲
Contre les faiseurs de haine responsables du cycle infernal et du climat de terreur dont nous sommes tous victimes, gardons le cap!
Solidarité, pour l’égalité,la justice, et le respect de la dignité humaine
— Fatima Ouassak (@FOuassak) October 29, 2020
This was also the case with Sebastien Abdelhamid, a television host, who expressed “anger and disgust” over what happened in Nice.
“All my thoughts to the victims and their families. What barbarism … these people are not human… It is not possible #nice.”
Colère, tristesse, dégoût, sentiment d’impuissance et d’injustice quand je vois ce qui s’est passé à nice. Toutes mes pensées aux victimes et à leurs familles. Quelle barbarie, qui plus est dans une Église.. ces gens sont pas humains.. c’est pas possible #nice
— Sebastien-Abdelhamid (@SAbdelhamid) October 29, 2020
Others expressed outrage at how some members of the political establishment were attempting to exploit the event for political ends.
Reacting to the news in a tweet, far-right leader Marine Le Pen said “the dramatic acceleration of Islamic acts of war against our fellow citizens … requires … a global response aimed at eradicating Islamism” from French soil.
“You do realise she is using the attack in her political interest … before even showing her support for the victims,” said one Twitter user.