French president Emmanuel Macron announced that his country would stand firm against religious extremists, after a knife-wielding man killed three people at a church. France will not “give up on our values,” Macron said in Nice. He also urged people of all religions to unite and not “give in to the spirit of division”.
According to reports, the young Tunisian migrant who was shot and wounded by the police, was identified as 21-year-old Brahim Aouissaoui. He was armed with a knife and carrying a copy of the Quran while attacking the worshipers in the basilica. The killing prompted the government to raise its security alert to the maximum level hours before a nationwide coronavirus lockdown. President Emmanuel Macron immediately increased the number of soldiers deployed to protect schools and religious sites from around 3,000 to 7,000.
The attack in Nice was the third incident in less than two months that French authorities have attributed to Muslim extremists, including the beheading of a teacher who had shown caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in a class. However, the French President Macron defended the cartoons and the right to mock religion, sparking a widespread anger against France in the Islamic world and several campaigns in Muslim-majority countries to boycott French products. Some even claimed that Macron is unfairly targeting France’s estimated five to six million Muslims — the largest community in Europe.