French President Emmanuel Macron ordered the deployment of thousands of soldiers in order to protect places of worship, after 3 people were killed Thursday in a knife attack inside a church in Nice, southern France, while condemnations for the attack came from various western, Arab and Islamic countries.
Macron said in statements from the site of the incident that France had been attacked by an "Islamic terrorist", a description that he insisted on using in similar cases despite the ire of the Islamic circles.
France is under attack "because of our values, because of our desire for freedom, and because of the possibility of enjoying freedom of belief on our soil," he said.
"I say it again today with great clarity: We will not give in," he added, announcing the increase in the number of soldiers in Operation Santinel from 3 thousand to 7 thousand soldiers, to protect important sites, including places of worship and schools, especially with the approaching "All Saints" holiday for Catholics Sunday.
For his part, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced raising the state of security alert in France to its highest level, which is an "emergency response to an attack", as part of the "Vigibirat" plan to protect French territory.
Nice Mayor Christian Estrozzi said that the attack at Notre Dame Church was similar to the beheading of teacher Samuel Patty in the suburbs of Paris earlier this month, after he showed offensive cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, in his classroom.
Estrozi added, "Enough is enough ... Now is the time for France to repudiate the peace laws, in order to permanently eliminate Islamic fascism on our lands."
Macron visits the site of the attack (Reuters)
The circumstances of the attack
The attack took place at around 9 am (8:00 GMT), when a man armed with a knife entered the church and stabbed her 55-year-old servant until he was killed, beheading a 60-year-old woman and stabbing another 44-year-old woman, according to an official. The prosecution in terrorism cases in France Jean-Francois Ricard in a press conference.
Ricard explained that the third victim managed to escape to a nearby cafe and then breathed her last there, adding that the police arrived after that and confronted the attacker, who was still chanting "God is Great", and shot him, and he was transferred to the hospital in critical condition.
Ricard stated that the attacker is a 21-year-old Tunisian, and he came to France from the Italian island of Lampedusa, the main destination for migrants from Africa, which he arrived on September 20.
He added that he arrived in Nice by train on Thursday morning with an identity card belonging to the Italian Red Cross, and that he changed his clothes at the train station and then went to the church to start his attack.
Reuters and the French Press Agency quoted security and judicial sources as saying that the attacker was named Ibrahim Aouissawi, and it is believed that he arrived in France on October 9th from Lampedusa, where the local authorities required him to quarantine before he was forced to leave Italian territory and be released.
On the other hand, Tunisia's judicial spokesman, Mohsen El-Daly, said, "The judicial counter-terrorism pole has opened a forensic investigation into the suspicion of Tunisian involvement in the Nice terrorist attack."
Within hours of the Nice attack, police killed a man who threatened passers-by with a pistol in the Montvavie region of Avignon, southern France.
Al-Jazeera correspondent reported that this person belongs to the far-right "Defend Europe" movement.
French media said he was shot by police after threatening a dealer of Maghreb origin.
The Associated Press quoted a police official as saying that the man was killed after he refused to throw his weapon.
French press reports had initially claimed that the man chanted "God is great".
The French newspaper Le Figaro quoted an acting source as saying that the man was undergoing psychological treatment, and that the prosecution did not believe there was a terrorist motive in him.
The "Defending Europe" or "Identity Movement" is a European political movement founded at the end of the last century. It claims to defend and protect Europe's identity from the social and demographic changes resulting from immigration. It has several branches, the most famous of which is the "Identity Generation" youth movement.
In conjunction with the Nice attack, Saudi television announced - Thursday morning - the arrest of a Saudi in the city of Jeddah after attacking a guard at the French consulate.
The French embassy in Saudi Arabia confirmed that the guard was taken to hospital after stabbing him, and said that his life was not in danger.
These events come in the midst of the anger of Muslims in France and around the world, after the French President defended the publication of insulting cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, may God bless him, and his earlier statement that the Islamic religion is in crisis everywhere.
Attitudes condemning the Nice attack and expressing solidarity with France have continued, as US President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter, “America stands with our oldest ally in his struggle. These extremist Islamic terrorist attacks must stop immediately. No country, France or others, can. Carry it long. "
The leaders of the European Union countries condemned the attack in the strongest terms and considered it an attack on the common values of Europe, and affirmed - in a joint statement - their standing and solidarity with the French government and people in the common and continuous war against terrorism and violent extremism, as they describe.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared her solidarity with France after the "brutal attack" in Nice.
Russia described the attack as a "terrible tragedy," and the Kremlin said it was unacceptable to harm religious feelings, and it was unacceptable to kill people.
Turkey rejects incitement
For its part, the Turkish Foreign Ministry condemned the attack and expressed - in a statement - its country's solidarity with the French people in the face of violence and terrorism.
Meanwhile, Fakhreddin Altun, head of the communications office of the Turkish presidency, said that Islam cannot be exploited in the name of terrorism, adding, "We call on the French leadership to avoid further inciting rhetoric against Muslims and focus instead on controlling the perpetrators of this act and other acts of violence."
In Egypt, Al-Azhar and its sheikh, Ahmed Al-Tayeb, condemned the attack, saying in a statement that "there is in no way a justification for those hateful terrorist acts that are inconsistent with the tolerant teachings of Islam and all heavenly religions," calling for "the need to work to counter all acts of violence, extremism, hatred and intolerance." ".
In Paris, representatives in the National Assembly observed a minute's silence for the lives of the victims, and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said that Nice residents "can count on the support of the city of Paris and the Parisians."
The representative of the French Council of the Islamic Faith strongly condemned the attack, and said, "As evidence of mourning and solidarity with the victims and their loved ones, I call on all Muslims in France to cancel all celebrations of the birth of the Prophet."
On the other hand, the President of the Council of European Muslims, Samir Al-Falih, condemned what he described as the reckless attack on Notre Dame Church in Nice.
Al-Falih criticized - in a press interview - what he called the terrorist acts sweeping France, stressing that Islam and Muslims are innocent of them, and that those who commit them must be confronted in the name of religion.