French President Emmanuel Macron said that he understood Muslims' feelings about the offensive cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, may God bless him and grant him peace, stressing that his government did not stand behind these cartoons.

In an exclusive interview with Al-Jazeera, the French president spoke of the anger sparked by the offensive cartoons published by the French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

"The cartoons are not a government project, but rather emanating from free and independent newspapers that are not affiliated with the government," Macron said.

He added that he understood the feelings of Muslims on this issue.

Macron had said earlier that France would not abandon the caricature, while commenting on the case of the murder of a young man of Chechen origins for a French professor who showed his students drawings insulting to the Prophet Muhammad, may God bless him and grant him peace.

Macron's statement sparked outrage in the Islamic world, especially since it came only days after another statement in which he said that the Islamic religion is experiencing a crisis everywhere.

In the interview to be broadcast later, Macron said, "I think that the reactions were due to lies and distortions of my words and because people understood that I support these cartoons."

He added, "There are people who distort Islam and claim to defend it in the name of this religion."

Macron said that the Muslim people are the most affected by the behavior of those who distort Islam.

Macron's emphasis that the government does not adopt the abusive cartoons and whip a growing popular campaign in the Islamic world to boycott French products, two days after an attack in Nice that left three dead and several wounded.

Earlier, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanan said that there was a possibility of more attacks on French soil.

"We are at war and against an external and internal enemy, and against Islamist ideology," he added.

But he saw no need to change the constitution to protect the French from terrorist attacks.

And the police chief in the French city of Nice said Friday that Christian and French government sites are vulnerable to militant attacks.

"We are in a situation where the terrorist threat is expanding more and more. Any symbol of the Republic or Christianity is a potential target," Richard Janotti told Reuters.

"We have to be careful. We have to pay attention," he added.

With 3,300 security cameras on the streets, Janotti said the police footage would be of critical importance to investigators.


"The investigators will use all our video recordings, and this will play a crucial role in assisting the investigators," he said.

The anti-terrorism prosecutor in charge of the investigation, Jean-Francois Ricard, told reporters that the 21-year-old Tunisian bomber of the Nice attack arrived in France in October after landing on the Italian island of Lampedusa on September 20.

A judicial source announced that a 47-year-old man, suspected of being related to him, was arrested under police investigation Thursday evening.

But a source close to the file called for caution about the nature of their exchanges.

Tunisia, which strongly condemned the attack, also announced the opening of an investigation.

Ricard said that investigators found near the attacker in Nice two Korans, two phones and the murder weapon, which is "a 30-centimeter-long knife with a blade of 17 cm long."


and condemned several Muslim countries, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran, an

attack Nice "strongly", and expressed Tunisia for its part for "solidarity with the

government and the

French people."

As for the Vatican, it declared that "terrorism and violence cannot be accepted at all."

"It is a moment of pain in a time of confusion," said his spokesman Matteo Bruni, stressing that Pope Francis "prays for the victims and their loved ones."