The Tunisian terrorist who stabbed three people to death in Nice had turned to a hermit-like life of prayer following a lifestyle of drink and drugs before the atrocity, his family say – as France’s Interior Minister warns of more ‘terrible attacks’ to come.
Brahim al-Aouissaoui, 21, beheaded a 60-year-old woman, slit the throat of sexton Vincent Loques, 55, and stabbed mother-of-three Simone Barreto Silva, 44, to death at Nice Notre-Dame Basilica on Thursday morning.
He was shot 14 times, tasered, and remains in hospital in critical condition.
Speaking from Sfax, Tunisia, his mother said Aoussaoui had left school and worked as a motorcycle mechanic, at first spending his wages on alcohol and drugs.
She told the Telegraph: ‘I used to tell him, ”we are poor and you’re wasting money?” He would reply ”if God wills it, he will guide me to the right path, it’s my business”.’
But over the last two and a half years he became increasingly religious and isolated.
‘He prayed [and] went from home to work and back, not mixing with others or leaving the house,’ his mother said.
His brother Yassine said that Aoussaoui worked harvesting olives in Italy after leaving Tunisia, then went on to France.
On the day before the attack, October 28, he called the family to say he had just arrived in the country and would be sleeping in front of the church – sending a photograph of himself at the cathedral that would be the location of the attack.
In a little over six weeks, Aoussaoui travelled from Tunisia, into Italy via Lampedusa, was taken to the mainland, and released by Italian authorities under deportation order. From there, it is thought he caught a train to Paris, where he stayed for a little over two weeks, before going to Nice and launching his attack
‘He didn’t tell me anything,’ said Yassine. He added that he did not understand how he could carry out the Nice attack so soon after arriving in France.
The country’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said that the attacker ‘wasn’t on any of our security watchlists, either French or European,’ and added that France was ‘at war with Islamist extremism… an enemy that is both internal and external’.
He told RTL radio: ‘We need to understand that there have been and there will be other events such as these terrible attacks.’
Mr Darmanin said after a top-level security meeting that 3,500 reserves in France’s gendarme force would be called up to give local authorities a total of 7,000 members of the security forces at their disposal to ensure security.
Some 4,000 additional French troops will also be mobilised from next week to raise the numbers taking part in the ongoing Sentinelle security operation to 7,000, the army confirmed.
Aoussaoui left his family’s impoverished village of Bou Hajla in Tunisia on or around September 15, according to the country’s judiciary spokesman, having paid smugglers to take him to Europe.
Nice terrorist Brahim Aoussaoui is seen in a photograph taken at the Italian port city of Bari, where he disembarked from a coronavirus quarantine ship on October 8 – marking his arrival in mainland Europe
Another image of Aouissaoui is held by his mother in the Tunisian province of Sfax, where she revealed that she had begged her son not to travel to France
Five days later he landed with 28 other migrants on the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa, where records show he was placed into a coronavirus quarantine centre.
On September 25, he was transferred from the centre to a quarantine ship, the Rhapsody, which set sail for the port city of Bari, on Italy’s eastern coast.
The ship moored offshore while the migrants waited out the quarantine, with disembarkation beginning on October 8. Aoussaoui was among those disembarked, with his fingerprints, name, and date of birth noted.
Border officials also took his photograph – which shows him smiling while holding up a card with the number ‘104’ printed on it. It captures the moment Aoussaoui entered mainland Europe.
Officials also carried out background checks, which Italian newspaper Corriere della Serra reports came back clean. They found Aoussaoui had no criminal background, had not tried to enter the country before, and was not on any international watch-list.
Nevertheless, Aoussaoui was deemed to have no legal right to enter Europe, and was served with a deportation order which gave him seven days to leave Italy.
What happened next is now the subject of an investigation. Despite being under deportation order, it seems Aoussaoui was freed by Italian immigration officials. He did not head back to Tunisia, but instead went to France.
Corriere reports that border officials had split the migrants into three groups – the first was 104 adults who had criminal backgrounds or other reasons for suspicion, who were taken to a detention centre.
The second, a group of 177, almost half of whom were children, who were placed in shelters. A third group of 104 individuals, of which Aoussaoui was a part, were not sent to a detention centre or shelter – leaving them free to go.
Brahim Aoussaoui, a 21-year-old Tunisian migrant, receives medical treatment after killing three worshippers
French security sources have also suggested that Aoussaoui was due to be deported, but Tunisia wouldn’t recognise him as a citizen. Amid the confusion, he simply walked out of detention.
Investigations are now underway in France, Italy and Tunisia to establish the exact chain of events.
From here, Aoussaoui’s movements become less clear. Some time between October 9 and 10, it appears he departed Bari for Paris on a train, allowing him to skirt French border checks.
After arriving in Paris, his movements and contacts are a mystery. But it is thought he stayed in and around the city until October 29, the day of the Nice attack.
That morning, took an early train to Nice, arriving in the city at 6.30am, according to French investigators.
He is known to have taken a photo of the Notre Dame basilica – the same church he would later attack – using a phone to send it to his brother back in Tunisia, saying he wanted to spend the night there.
As the church opened at 8.30am he made his way inside before pulling out a 12-inch blade and launching his attack, killing three people in ‘horrific’ fashion.
The first to die was an as-yet unidentified parishioner in her sixties, a regular at the church who had come to pray first thing in the morning, and who had her throat slit near the church’s font in an attempted beheading.
The next to die was the church’s 54-year-old sacristan Vincent Loques, who had opened the doors to Aoussaoui and was busy preparing for Mass. He was due to celebrate his birthday on Friday.
Brazilian-born Simone Barreto Silva, 44, another parishioner, was then stabbed multiple times but managed to escape the church around 8.54am, running to a nearby burger bar where she bled to death.
The mother-of-three’s last words to paramedics were: ‘Tell my children that I love them’.
Friends in Brazil said that Silva had been in France for 30 years. Brahim Jelloule, the owner of the restaurant that she staggered to before dying, revealed that his brother first saw Silva covered in blood in the street.
Jelloule, who is a Muslim, said his brother and a staff member dragged Silva inside before going into the church and confronting Aoussaoui, who was still inside an armed with a knife.
The pair fled and called police, who arrived around 9.10am and shot Aoussaoui 14 times as he screamed ‘Allahu Akbar’ – God is greatest in Arabic – a phrase he kept shouting even after being sedated.
Investigators found two unused knives, a Koran and two mobile phones, in addition to a bag with some personal effects. He was unknown to French security services, Mr Ricard told a press conference.
A picture showing Aoussaoui bleeding on the floor and being treated by paramedics after he was shot by police was tweeted by the head of the respected SITE organisation.
Last night, police arrested a 47-year-old man in Nice who is thought to have had contact with Aoussaoui the day before the attack and may have provided him with a telephone.
Investigators are looking into Aoussaoui’s contacts – trying to determine whether he was self-radicalised, or was directed to carry out his attack by a terror group.
The attack came just days after Thabat, an al-Qaeda-linked press agency, published a call for Muslims to wage ‘jihad’ (holy war) in France over newspaper Charlie Hebdo’s caricatures of the Prophet.
Prosecutors in Tunisia have also opened an investigation into Aoussaoui’s contacts and life before he left the country, including whether he had links to terror groups.
The country’s top prosecutor has said the 21-year-old was not being monitored by anti-terror forces, but will probe further.
ERDOGAN’S INCENDIARY WORDS BEFORE ATTACK
The Nice terror attack came after days of attacks on Macron in Islamic countries over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, led by Turkey’s President Erdogan.
On Saturday, Erdogan launched a broadside at Macron, saying that he needs to undergo ‘mental checks’ for treating ‘millions of members from different faith groups this way’.
At a rally the following day he redoubled his attack, accusing Macron of being ‘obsessed with Erdogan day and night’.
On Monday, he stepped up his attacks even further, describing European leaders as ‘fascists’ and ‘links in the chains of Nazism’ for what he called the persecution of Muslims in Europe.
Erdogan added that Muslims on the continent ‘are now subjected to a lynch campaign similar to that against Jews in Europe before World War II’.
Singling out Macron, he told European leaders to ‘put and end’ to what he called the French President’s ‘anti-Islam’ agenda.
On Wednesday the row escalated once again, after Charlie Hebdo published a front-page cartoon of Erdogan lifting a woman’s burka to look at her naked backside, while saying: ‘Ooh, the Prophet.’
The cartoon appeared underneath a headline which read: ‘Erdogan: In private, he’s very funny’.
The Turkish leader condemned ‘scoundrels’ for publishing the cartoon and accused the West of wanting to ‘relaunch the crusades’.
‘I don’t need to say anything to those scoundrels who insult my beloved prophet on such a scale,’ Erdogan said, calling it a ‘disgusting attack’.
Turkey has vowed to take ‘legal, diplomatic actions’ in response to the cartoon.
The day after his remarks were published, the attack on the church in Nice was launched.
Since then, Erdogan has not spoken publicly against Macron or France, though his spokesman defended his earlier remarks – while defending the attack.
‘We owe no apology to anyone for expressing our strong opposition to racism and xenophobia,’ the spokesman said.
Aoussaoui’s family, speaking from the impoverished Tunisian town of Bouhajla where he lived before going to Europe, said he had been in contact with them since arriving in France.
From the Tunisian province of Sfax, mother Kmar, her eyes wet with tears, said she was surprised to hear her son was in France when he called upon his arrival and had no idea what he was planning.
‘You don’t know the French language, you don’t know anyone there, you’re going to live alone there, why, why did you go there?’ she said she told him over the phone at the time.
She said that Aoussaoui had turned to religion and isolated himself in the past two years.
‘He prayed… (and) went from home to work and back, not mixing with others or leaving the house,’ she said.
But before that ‘he drank alcohol and used drugs. I used to tell him: ‘We are poor and you’re wasting money?’ He would reply: ‘If God wills it, he will guide me to the right path, it’s my business’.’
His brother told the Al Arabiya TV network: ‘He told me he wanted to spend the night in front of the cathedral. He also sent me a photo of the building. He phoned me when he arrived in France.’
He then told of the family’s shock that Brahim Aoussaoui was responsible for the terrorist attack.
‘What we saw in the images is him, our son,’ they said.
Brahim had struggled to find regular work before leaving the country and did ‘various jobs’, a neighbour said.
Meanwhile the Tunisian judicial spokesman said Brahim had not been classified as a hardliner before leaving the country, and was not known to security forces. He said Brahim had left the country on or around September 14.
The killings, which occurred ahead of the Catholic holy day of All Saints Day on Sunday – and on the day that Sunni Muslims mark the Prophet Mohammed’s birthday – prompted the French government to raise the terror alert level to the maximum ’emergency’ level nationwide.
Counter-terrorism police last night arrested a 47-year-old man in Nice on suspicion of being an accomplice to the knifeman and providing him with one of two mobile phones that the attacker was found with.
The man is believed to have been in close contact with the 21-year-old jihadist on Wednesday, the day before the attack, police sources told French media.
President Emmanuel Macron, who quickly travelled to Nice, announced surveillance of churches by France’s Sentinelle military patrols would be bolstered to 7,000 troops from 3,000.
Security at schools would also be boosted, he said. ‘Quite clearly, it is France that is being attacked,’ Mr Macron said, and vowed the country ‘will not give up on our values’.
He threw his weight behind the Catholic church, saying: ‘The entire nation will stand so that religion can continue to be exercised freely in our country.’ He also called for ‘unity’ urging people ‘not to give in to the spirit of division’.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, speaking on French radio on Friday, added that France is ‘at war… against an ideology, the Islamist ideology, which wants to impose its cultural codes, its way of living… through terror.’
He said France was a ‘big target’ for terrorists because it symbolises freedom, secular society, and the rule of law – pointing to the ongoing trial of 14 people charged over the 2015 attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine.
‘Islamism is a form of fascism in the 21st century,’ he added, ‘an extremism that we must fight.’
Meanwhile Eric Ciotti, deputy of the Alpes-Maritime region where Nice is located, said France has now ‘become the preferred target of terrorists’ and the Nice in particular has become a ‘martyr city’.
VICTIM: Brazilian-born Simone Barreto Silva, 44, also succumbed to her injuries after seeking refuge in a nearby burger bar. Her last words were to paramedics, who she told: ‘Tell my children that I love them’
VICTIM: Vincent Loques, 54, a sacristan of the Notre Dame basilica in the city of Nice, was brutally killed as he prepared for the first Mass of the day after 21-year-old Tunisian migrant Brahim Aoussaoui attacked the church
KILLER’S MOTHER: Kmar (right), the mother of Nice attacker Brahim Aouissaoui who killed three people in Thursday’s terror attack, cries at her home in Tunisia last night after being questioned by counter-terrorism police
Nuns put flowers in tribute to the victims of a deadly knife attack at the Notre Dame church in Nice
A woman puts a candle near a picture of Vincent Loques, sexton of Notre Dame church, one of the victims of a terror attack
Flowers, messages and candles lie in front of the Notre Dame church, in Nice, France
Flowers, messages and candles lie in front of the Notre Dame church, in Nice
A nun lays flowers outside the Notre-Dame de l’Assomption Basilica in Nice
A man prays next candles and flowers left in memory of the victims of a knife attack in front of the Notre Dame church in Nice
Eric Ciotti, President of the Departmental Council of the Alpes-Maritimes and member of Parilament, pays tribute to the victims of a deadly knife attack at the Notre Dame church
Notre-Dame de l’Assomption Basilica’s Priest Franklin Parmentier (third left) and right-wing party Les Republicains MP Eric Ciotti (third right) pay homage at the church
A woman cries as she speaks to reporters in front of the Notre Dame church in Nice
French soldiers patrol near the Notre Dame church the day after a deadly knife attack in Nice
Having spoken to Macron since the attack, Ciotti said he has ‘noted a change in tone from the President.’
‘He was very wrong in giving the impression of flattering the different communities,’ said Eric Ciotti. ‘I expect a profound, radical change in policy.’
Ciotti said he has called on Macron ‘to stop all forms of immigration’ and has received assurances that a ‘moratorium on bogus asylum seekers’ will follow shortly.
As part of the ‘change of tone’, Darmanin confirmed that 18 suspected Islamists will be expelled from France in the coming days, in addition to 14 that were expelled after teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded.
Mourners attended vigils to pay tribute to the victims of the triple killing last night. They lit candles outside the Notre-Dame de l’Assomption Basilica in Nice and in front of the French Embassy in Berlin.
There were also tears in Tunisia where the attacker’s mother, Kmar, wept after being questioned by police at her home in Sfax.
The attack comes amid fury across the Islamic world at President Macron for defending satirical cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, and on the day that Sunni Muslims mark the Prophet’s birthday.
Several Muslim-majority countries launched campaigns to boycott French products, while protesters burnt the tricolor and posters of Macron at demonstrations in Syria, Libya, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Palestine.
Also on a day of terror for France:
- A security guard at the French consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, was stabbed and wounded;
- A man armed with a knife was arrested in Sartrouville near a church after vowing ‘to do as in Nice’;
- An Afghan man was arrested in Lyon trying to board a train while armed with a long knife;
- Malaysia’s ex-PM said that Muslims have a right ‘to kill millions of French people’ if Islam is insulted;
- French politicians lined up to demand tougher action against what Nice’s mayor branded ‘Islamo-fascism’;
- Online jihadists celebrated the triple killing in France and Saudi Arabia yesterday, a report by SITE said
Elsewhere on Thursday a man was arrested around 1pm in Sartrouville, north of Paris, after his father called police and said his son had left home and planned ‘to do as in Nice.’
Police stopped the man in his car near a local church, and Le Parisien reports that he was in possession of a knife. The car was searched, but nothing else was found.
Meanwhile in Lyon, an Afghan man in his 20s was arrested while trying to board a tram carrying a long knife. The man was known to French intelligence services.
In Avignon, a man armed with a handgun began threatening people in the Montfavet around 11.15am.
Police rushed to the scene and confronted the man, who refused to drop his weapon. Police then shot the man with a Taser, which failed to stop him, so they opened fire with live ammunition, killing him.
It was initially thought that the man was an Islamist, and French media reported that he had been shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’.
But it was later revealed that he was a far-Right extremist who belonged to the anti-Islam Identitarian Movement, and had been giving Nazi salutes.
Meanwhile in Saudi Arabia, a man was arrested after stabbing a guard at the French consulate with ‘a sharp tool’. The attacker was arrested while the guard was taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
France’s embassy in Riyadh condemned the ‘attack on diplomatic premises which can never be justified’.
French diplomats also called on Saudi authorities to ‘shed light on this attack’ and ensure the safety of French people in the kingdom.
‘We call on our colleagues in Saudi Arabia to show maximum vigilance,’ the embassy said after Saudi security forces apprehended the suspect, who is said to be a Saudi national in his 40s.
The Nice attack happened less than half a mile from where another attacker plowed a truck into a Bastille Day crowd in 2016, killing dozens.
Despite the attack, protests against France and Macron specifically continued on Friday – with thousands of Muslim worshippers leaving Friday prayers in Pakistan and taking to the streets, chanting anti-French slogans and calling for a boycott of French products.
An estimated 2,000 worshippers celebrating the Mawlid, the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, took to the streets in the eastern city of Lahore.
Dozens of people furiously stomped on French flags and cried for the boycott of French products. In Multan, a city in Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province, thousands burned an effigy of French President Emmanuel Macron and demanded that Pakistan sever ties with France.
More gatherings were planned for later Friday in Pakistan, including the capital, Islamabad, where police were out in force to prevent possible demonstrations outside the French Embassy. The atmosphere was tense as police positioned shipping containers to block the roads.
Other protests, largely organized by Islamists, are expected across the region, including in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.
In Afghanistan, members of the Islamist party Hezb-i-Islami set the French flag ablaze. Its leader, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, warned Macron that if he doesn’t ‘control the situation, we are going to a third world war and Europe will be responsible.’
Forensic officers work at night in front of Notre Dame Basilica in Nice after a terror attack on a Catholic church
Forensic officers work at night in a coffee shop near Notre Dame Basilica in Nice following an Islamist terror attack
People light candles outside the Notre-Dame de l’Assomption Basilica in Nice following an Islamist terror attack
Tribute to the victims of the attack on the Notre-Dame basilica in Nice, with mourners holding the tricolor flag by the church
People mourn as they attend a commemoration for the victims killed during an in a church attack in Nice
Muslim faithfuls pray at the Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica in Marseille, south-eastern France
French police officers secure the street near the entrance of the Notre Dame Basilica church in Nice
Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit, French Prime Minister Jean Castex and President of Bishops’ Conference of France Eric de Moulins-Beaufort talk to the press after their meeting at the Matignon Hotel in Paris
People mourn as they attend a commemoration for the victims killed during a church attack in Nice
People light candles outside the Notre-Dame de l’Assomption Basilica in Nice in a vigil to remember the victims
A woman places a candle at a makeshift memorial for the victims of the Nice attack, in front of the French embassy in Berlin
‘Eradicate this plague’: French politicians demand action to ‘wipe out Islamo-fascism’ after three die in Nice terror attack
French politicians lined up to demand tougher action against Islamist terrorism after three people were murdered by a knifeman in Nice.
The triple murder is the latest in a long line of terror attacks in France in recent years, including the Charlie Hebdo massacre in 2015 and the beheading of a school teacher two weeks ago after he displayed some of the magazine’s cartoons.
Nice’s mayor Christian Estrosi said that ‘enough is enough… it’s time now for France to exonerate itself from the laws of peace in order to definitively wipe out Islamo-fascism from our country’.
One of Emmanuel Macron‘s party colleagues called for ‘total mobilisation’ against extremism in what another called a ‘war that the Islamists are waging on our nation’.
Macron’s prime minister Jean Castex said France’s alert level had been raised to its highest ‘attack emergency’ setting after the violence.
Within hours of the Nice attack, a gunman had been shot dead by police in Paris while a knifeman was arrested for attacking a guard at a French consulate in Saudi Arabia.
Speaking in parliament, where he had earlier been talking about France’s new lockdown, Castex said the Nice attack was ‘as cowardly as it is barbaric’.
French anti-terror prosecutors have opened an inquiry into what mayor Estrosi called an ‘Islamo-fascist attack.’
Over the past week, protests and calls to boycott French products have spread rapidly from Bangladesh to Pakistan to Kuwait. Social media has been pulsing with anti-France hashtags.
Muslim leaders, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in particular, have loudly criticized France for what they see as the government’s provocative and anti-Muslim stance.
French politicians were taking part in a debate on the country’s new coronavirus restrictions when news of the attack reached them.
They observed a minute of silence before the debate broke up so an emergency security meeting could be held.
After the meeting, Prime Minister Jean Castex moved the threat level from ‘risk of attack’ to the ’emergency level’, meaning threats are imminent.
Images on French media showed the neighborhood locked down and surrounded by police and emergency vehicles. Sounds of explosions could be heard as sappers exploded suspicious objects.
The Catholic Church issued a statement, condemning the ‘unspeakable act’ and saying that ‘Christians must not become a symbol to be cut down.’
Catholic bishops in France called for all church bells to ring at 3pm in solidarity with the victims, before adding: ‘It is urgent that this gangrene be stopped as it is urgent that we find the indispensable fraternity which will hold us all upright in the face of these threats’
Pope Francis was among those leading an outpouring of sympathy, saying: ‘I pray for the victims, for their families and for the beloved French people, so that they can react to evil with good.’
Former French Presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande also issued statements, the former condemning an ‘act of barbarism’ and calling on people to oppose ‘the enemies of democracy; while the latter vowed that ‘democracy is our weapon… in the face of Islamist terrorism’.
Tunisia strongly condemned a deadly ‘terrorist’ attack at the church in Nice and said it launched an investigation after reports the assailant was Tunisian.
‘Tunisia strongly condemns the terrorist incident in Nice and expresses its solidarity with the government and people of France,’ said a statement from the foreign ministry.
The North African state stressed its ‘rejection of all forms of terrorism and extremism,’ and warned against ‘ideological and political exploitation of religions,’ according to the statement.
Jihadists celebrate Nice terror attack as ISIS and al-Qaeda supporters call for more attacks against France in sickening online propaganda
Online jihadists celebrated the latest terror attack on France after three people were murdered by a knifeman in Nice on a day which also saw a gunman killed in Avignon and a guard attacked at a French consulate in Saudi Arabia.
The latest in a long line of violent attacks in France was ‘already being celebrated massively across jihadi communities’ by late Thursday, according to the SITE Intelligence monitoring group.
SITE director Rita Katz said it was ‘hard to recall social media celebration this massive for terrorism’ with jihadists taking to Twitter and Facebook to welcome the latest grisly murders.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the violence, but it comes amid high tensions between France and the Muslim world after a teacher was beheaded for showing Prophet Mohammed cartoons to his class two weeks ago.
Katz said that jihadists were celebrating the attackers ‘freedom of action’ after three violent episodes in the space of a few hours.
‘These new attacks comes amid a massive and enduring wave of jihadi media condemning France and its cartoonists,’ she said.
A report by SITE said that jihadists were ‘overjoyed’ by the news from Nice, Avignon and Saudi Arabia.
Extremists linked to both ISIS and al-Qaeda have seized on the beheading of Samuel Paty earlier this month to incite more attacks against France.
Katz said that the ‘prospect of co-ordination’ between the various attackers seemed ‘increasingly plausible’, although not confirmed.
The assailant, who was shot by police and arrested, is reportedly a Tunisian migrant who recently arrived in France via Lampedusa, Italy, according to sources close to the case.
Condemnation came from US President Donald Trump, UN chief Antonio Guterres, as well as European, Arab and Israeli leaders.
‘Our hearts are with the people of France. America stands with our oldest Ally in this fight,’ Trump tweeted. ‘These Radical Islamic terrorist attacks must stop immediately. No country, France or otherwise can long put up with it!’
Democratic White House candidate Joe Biden vowed to crack down on ‘extremist violence’ if elected.
‘Jill and I are keeping the French people in our prayers following the horrific terror attack in Nice – which targeted innocents in a house of worship,’ he said on Twitter.
‘A Biden-Harris administration will work with our allies and partners to prevent extremist violence in all forms.’
Russian President Vladimir Putin has extended his condolences to French President Emmanuel Macron and families of the victims of the attack in Nice.
In a telegram quoted by the Kremlin, Putin called the attack ‘a cynical and a cruel crime inside a church’ and said that ‘the notions of human morals are absolutely alien to terrorists.’
Saudi Arabia ‘strongly condemned’ deadly stabbings Thursday in the French city of Nice, which authorities are investigating as the latest terrorist attack in France.
A knife-wielding man killed three people at a church in Nice on Thursday, slitting the throat of at least one of them, in an attack that triggered global shock.
‘We strongly condemn and denounce the terrorist attack that occurred… in Nice, France, which resulted in the death and injury of a number of people,’ the Saudi foreign ministry said on Twitter.
‘We reiterate the kingdom’s categorical rejection of such extremist acts that are inconsistent with all religions, human beliefs and common sense, and we affirm the importance of rejecting practices that generate hatred, violence and extremism.’
The French Council of Muslim Worship also issued a statement strongly condemning the attack.
‘As a sign of mourning and solidarity with the victims and their relatives, I call on the Muslims of France to cancel all the festivities of the Mawlid feast,’ which takes place on October 28 and 29.
The attack is just the latest to strike France, after history teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded in another attack north of Paris.
Paty was stabbed by an 18-year-old Chechen after he showed the cartoons to his students during a lesson on free speech.
A woman, believed to be the wife of the church warden (wearing the beige jumper) is seen at the scene of the attack in Nice
A woman, believed to be a close friend of one of the victims, weeps in front of the basilica after three people were killed
President Emmanuel Macron visits the scene of a reported knife attack at Notre Dame church in Nice
Three people have died after a knifeman attacked the Notre Dame basilica in Nice, before he was shot by police
French coroners carry out the body of one of the three people killed at the Notre-Dame de l’Assomption Basilica in Nice
Police swarmed the area around 9am, running into the church before the attacker was shot and arrested. Mayor Christian Estrosi said the attacker kept shouting Allahu Akbar even after being medicated
French politicians were taking part in a coronavirus lockdown debate when the news reached them – and held a minute of silence in the chamber (pictured)
General view of the Black Carpet to pay tribute to victims of the attack in Nice at the Cannes Festival
Players and referees at the OGC Nice v Hapoel Be’er Sheva game in Allianz Riviera, Nice, line up before the match in a minute silence to commemorate the victims of the Nice killings
Parents of pupils at the school had led a campaign against him, before the attack took place. Seven have been arrested.
Just a few weeks earlier, an 18-year-old Pakistani stabbed a wounded two people outside the old offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Muslims ‘have a right to kill French people’, ex Malaysian PM says
Malaysia‘s former prime minister said that Muslims have a right ‘to kill millions of French people’, shortly after a knife-wielding Islamist killed three people in a deadly terror attack in Nice.
Mahathir Mohamad, who lost power in Muslim-majority Malaysia in February, claimed that freedom of expression does not include ‘insulting other people’ amid a row over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.
The 95-year-old politician said he did not approve of the beheading of a French school teacher for sharing caricatures of the Prophet, but said: ‘Irrespective of the religion professed, angry people kill’.
‘The French in the course of their history [have] killed millions of people. Many were Muslims,’ he said in a tweet which has since been removed for violating the website’s rules.
Mahathir, who has drawn controversy for comments about Jews and LGBT people in the past, went on: ‘Muslims have a right to be angry and to kill millions of French people for the massacres of the past.’
The Malaysian politician said that ‘by and large’, Muslims have not applied the principle of ‘eye for an eye’: ‘Muslims don’t. The French shouldn’t. Instead the French should teach their people to respect other people’s feelings’.
Mahathir, who served as Malaysian premier twice for a total of 24 years, said that French President Emmanuel Macron was ‘very primitive’ and ‘not showing that he is civilised’.
The man has admitted to police that he was targeting the magazine for publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also spoke out to condemn the attack, tweeting: ‘I am appalled to hear the news from Nice this morning of a barbaric attack at the Notre-Dame Basilica.
‘Our thoughts are with the victims and their families, and the UK stands steadfastly with France against terror and intolerance.’
German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed ‘solidarity’ with France, saying she is ‘deeply moved by the cruel murders in a church in Nice.’
‘I condemn the odious and brutal attack that has just taken place in Nice and I am with France with all my heart,’ European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen tweeted.
‘We will remain united and determined in the face of barbarity and fanaticism.’
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte condemned a ‘cowardly attack’ and said: ‘Our convictions are stronger than fanaticism, hatred and terror. We embrace the families of the victims and our French brothers. We are united!’
Spanish counterpart Pedro Sanchez added: ‘We continue to defend freedom, our democratic values, peace and the security of our citizens.’
A harder tone came from Hungary, where populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban wrote that the attack showed clearly ‘that our culture, our way of life and our European values are in the cross hairs of extremist terrorism.
‘We are ready to join forces in order to protect traditional European values and the traditional European way of life,’ Orban added.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who previously governed with far-right ministers, called the murders in Nice ‘a despicable Islamist terror attack.
‘France has our full solidarity. We will defend our values and European ‘way of life’ with all our might against Islamists and political Islam,’ Kurz said.
It also comes amid mass protests in many Islamic countries against Emmanuel Macron, after the French President spoke up in defence of the cartoons.
Tweeting in Arabic, he wrote: ‘Nothing makes us hold back, ever. We respect all differences in the spirit of peace. We never accept hate speech and defend rational debate.
‘We will always stand by human dignity and universal values.’
His remarks have prompted demonstrations in Gaza, Turkey, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and boycotts of French products in Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar and Palestinian territories.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has led outrage at Macron, suggesting that he is mentally ill and needs to have his health evaluated.
On Thursday, Ankara said strongly condemned Thursday’s ‘savage’ knife attack in southern France that left three people dead, offering its ‘solidarity’, despite a running diplomatic spat with Paris.
‘We strongly condemn the attack committed today inside the Notre-Dame church in Nice,’ a foreign ministry statement said, while offering condolences to the victims’ relatives.
Pakistanis take part in a rally for the Mawlid al-Nabi holiday that celebrates the birthday of Islam’s Prophet
Pakistanis take part in a rally for the Mawlid al-Nabi holiday that celebrates the birthday of Islam’s Prophet
Muslim demonstrators shout slogans as they tear a poster of French President Emmanuel Macron during a protest calling for the boycott of French products in Hyderabad, India
Muslims take part in a protest after Friday prayer, calling for the boycott of French products in Dhaka, Bangladesh
Muslims shout slogans against French President Emmanuel Macron during a protest in Hyderabad, India
Egypt’s foreign ministry said it ‘stands as a government and people with… France in combatting this hateful incident’. Qatar voiced strong condemnation and reiterated its rejection of violence and terrorism, especially against places of worship and regardless of the motives
The foreign ministry also expressed condolences to the victim’s families.
UN extremism official blasts ‘inflammatory’ Charlie Hebdo cartoons
The head of a UN anti-extremism body expressed ‘deep concern’ Wednesday about growing tensions over satirical cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, urging ‘mutual respect’ between people.
The statement by Miguel Angel Moratinos – who heads the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations – follows growing anger in the Muslim world over France’s response to the beheading of a teacher who had shown his pupils the images as part of a class on free speech.
President Emmanuel Macron has vigorously defended the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed on free speech grounds, sparking angry protests across swathes of the Muslim world and campaigns to boycott French products.
The UN High Representative ‘is following with deep concern the growing tensions and instances of intolerance triggered by the publication of the satirical caricatures depicting Prophet Mohammed,’ a spokesman said.
‘The inflammatory caricatures have also provoked acts of violence against innocent civilians who were attacked for their sheer religion, belief or ethnicity.
‘Insulting religions and sacred religious symbols provokes hatred and violent extremism leading to polarization and fragmentation of the society.’
Lebanese prime minister designate Saad Hariri voiced his ‘strongest condemnation and disapproval of the heinous criminal attack,’ and urged Muslims ‘to reject this criminal act that has nothing to do with Islam or the Prophet’.
The Islamic world’s anger at France deepened on Wednesday as Turkey condemned a Charlie Hebdo cartoon showing its president Recep Tayyip Erdogan lifting a woman’s burka to look at her naked backside.
Erdogan called the cartoonists ‘scoundrels’ and accused the West of wanting to ‘relaunch the Crusades’ by attacking Islam after the image appeared on the front of this week’s magazine.
‘I don’t need to say anything to those scoundrels who insult my beloved prophet on such a scale,’ Erdogan said, calling it a ‘disgusting attack’.
Erdogan’s spokesman on Thursday deflected blame over the attack in France, saying ‘we categorically deny any effort to associate us with any kind of violence.’
‘We will continue to confront any politician who insults our religion and values. We feel we owe no apology to anyone for expressing our strong opposition to racism and xenophobia,’ he said.
‘Our President has always called for cooperation against terrorism and extremism. We renew that call while we reject the damaging rhetoric and actions against our religion and culture regardless of its ideological source.’
Showing Erdogan in a T-shirt and underpants, the caricature has Erdogan saying ‘Ooh, the Prophet’ as he looks at the woman’s backside, and comes with the caption: ‘Erdogan – in private he’s very funny’.
A Charlie Hebdo cartoon showing the naked Prophet’s backside was the image which French school teacher Paty showed to his class in the lesson which led to his murder and beheading earlier this month.
President Macron has staunchly defended free expression and the right to mock religion in the wake of the terror attack, but has become a target of anger in the Islamic world.
Turkey has vowed to take ‘legal, diplomatic actions’ in response to the cartoon while Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan called for an end to ‘attacks on Islam’, saying the West should be willing to treat blasphemy in the same way as Holocaust denial.
Meanwhile Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani also took aim at France by warning that insulting the Prophet would encourage ‘violence and bloodshed’.
Muslims chant slogans after Friday prayer as they take part in a protest calling for the boycott of French products in Dhaka
An effigy depicting the French president Emmanuel Macron is seen as Muslims chant slogans denouncing him during a protest in Dhaka, Bangladesh
Muslims burn an effigy depicting French President Emmanuel Macron as they take part in a protest calling for the boycott of French products in Bangladesh
Muslims hold an effigy depicting French president Emmanuel Macron after Friday prayer in Dhaka, Bangladesh
Muslims hold pictures of the French president Emmanuel Macron after Friday prayer in Dhaka, Bangladesh
TERROR IN FRANCE: HOW ATTACKS HAVE UNFOLDED OVER FIVE YEARS
An attacker with a knife killed three people and wounded several others at a church in Nice on Thursday, police said.
The terror attack took place less than two weeks after the beheading of middle school teacher Samuel Paty by a man of Chechen origin.
Paty’s attacker said he wanted to punish him for showing pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a civics lesson.
Here are other attacks that have taken place in France over the past few years:
Sept 25, 2020 – Two people are stabbed and wounded in Paris near the former offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine, where Islamist militants carried out a deadly attack in 2015. A man originally from Pakistan was arrested
Oct. 3, 2019 – Mickael Harpon, a 45-year-old IT specialist with security clearance to work in the Paris police headquarters, killed three police officers and one civilian employee before being shot dead by police. He had converted to Islam about 10 years earlier.
March 23, 2018 – A gunman kills three people in southwestern France after holding up a car, firing on police and taking hostages in a supermarket, screaming ‘Allahu Akbar’. Security forces storm the building and kill him.
July 26, 2016 – Two attackers kill a priest and seriously wound another hostage in a church in northern France before being shot dead by French police. Francois Hollande, who was France’s president at the time, says the two hostage-takers had pledged allegiance to Islamic State.
July 14, 2016 – A gunman drives a heavy truck into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in the French city of Nice, killing 86 people and injuring scores more in an attack claimed by Islamic State. The attacker is identified as a Tunisian-born Frenchman.
June 14, 2016 – A Frenchman of Moroccan origin stabs a police commander to death outside his home in a Paris suburb and kills his partner, who also worked for the police. The attacker told police negotiators during a siege that he was answering an appeal by Islamic State.
Nov. 13, 2015 – Paris is rocked by multiple, near simultaneous gun-and-bomb attacks on entertainment sites around the city, in which 130 people are killed and 368 are wounded. Islamic State says it was responsible for the attacks. Two of the 10 known perpetrators were Belgian citizens and three others were French.
Jan. 7-9, 2015 – Two Islamist militants break into an editorial meeting of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7 and rake it with bullets, killing 12 people. Another militant kills a policewoman the next day and takes hostages at a supermarket on Jan. 9, killing four before police shoot him dead.