The Muslim world has expressed its “utter rejection” of the terrorist attack in the French city of Nice October 29, saying that it is “inconsistent with all religions, human beliefs and common sense”.

Muslims fear retaliation

On Thursday, three people were killed by a man armed with a knife in what investigators are treating as “an act of terrorism”.

The assailant was wounded by police and hospitalised after the killings at the Notre Dame Basilica, less than a kilometre from the site in 2016 where another attacker ploughed a truck into a Bastille Day crowd, killing dozens.

The incident took place amid growing tensions between France and the Muslim world, triggered by French President Emmanuel Macron’s controversial comment on October 2 that Islam is a religion in “crisis” globally.

The fallout grew after a French teacher was killed on October 16. Samuel Paty was beheaded in broad daylight after he showed caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, which are deeply offensive to Muslims, to his students.

While Muslims have condemned the killing, they fear a crackdown targeting Muslim organisations and are upset by the renewed support for the right to show the cartoons, which often suggest Islam and “terrorism” are linked.

“Peace cannot be achieved with ugly provocation”

For its part, the Turkish foreign ministry said it strongly condemned the deadly knife attack.

“No reason could legitimise or excuse killing someone or violence. Those who conducted this savage attack at a sacred place of worship do not clearly share any religious, humane or moral values”, said a Turkish foreign ministry spokesman.

“Turkey is in solidarity with French people as a nation who also lost her citizens to terrorism”, added the spokesman.

Iran condemned Thursday’s knife attack calling it a “cycle of provocations and violence” that must stop.

“We strongly condemn today’s terrorist attack in Nice”, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted.

“This escalating vicious cycle – hate speech, provocations & violence – must be replaced by reason & sanity. We should recognise that radicalism breads more radicalism, and peace cannot be achieved with ugly provocation”.

Zarif included a verse from the Quran: “And We have not sent you, [O Mohammad], except as a mercy to the worlds”.

Egypt’s Al-Azhar University denounced the knife attack.

Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, grand imam of Al-Azhar, said in statement: “There is no justification for such heinous terrorist attacks which contradict the tolerant teachings of Islam and all monotheistic religions”.

El-Tayeb also warned against rising incidents of violence and hate speech that specifically target the beliefs of people.

“Terrorism has no religion; all Muslims are invited to condemn this criminal act that neither belongs to Islam nor to the peace-loving Prophet [Muhammad]”, he added.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia also condemned the attack on Twitter and reiterated the Kingdom’s “utter rejection of such extremist acts that are inconsistent with all religions, human beliefs and common sense”.

Separately, the Muslim Council of Britain said on Twitter it was “deeply saddened by the news”, adding that “there can be no justification for this violence, particularly at a place of worship”.

French Bishops call for end to “cancerous tumour” of extremism, insist that “despite the pain, Catholics refuse to give in to fear”

In the meantime, a few hours after the attack Thursday, the French Bishops’ Conference expressed in a statement its profound regret over the tragedy, and reiterated that “despite the pain, Catholics refuse to give in to fear”.

“The murders that took place this morning in Nice in the Notre-Dame Basilica plunge the Conference of Bishops of France into immense sadness”, the statement said.

“Our thoughts and prayers go to the victims, the wounded, their families and their loved ones. These people were attacked and killed because they were in the Basilica. They were a symbol to be destroyed”.

In this context, the Bishops recall the murder of Father Jacques Hamel, who was killed on July 26, 2016 by two Islamists at the altar of his church in Saint-Étienne du Rouvray in the Archdiocese of Rouen.

“Our whole country has been hit by these terrible acts”, the French Bishops continued.

“This terrorism aims to create fear in our entire society. It is urgent to stop this cancerous tumour, just as it is urgent to find the indispensable fraternity which will keep us all united in the face of these threats”.

The Bishops concluded by assuring that “despite the pain that surrounds them, Catholics refuse to give in to fear and, together with the whole nation, want to face this insidious and blind threat”.

(With reporting by Al Jazeera and Fides)

More on Novena on the Nice terrorist attack:

Community of Sant’Egidio calls on world to avoid “instrumentalisation of religions” at service of economic, political “clash of civilisations”

Nice attack: Pope condemns “violent act of terror” in “strongest possible way”

EU Bishops mourn victims of Nice basilica attack: “They were killed only because they wanted to pray to the Lord in a church”

Analysis: Is Islam in crisis? It’s not that simple

Cardinal Sarah fans flames of Islamophobia after attack in Nice basilica leaves three dead

Pope mourns Nice attack “that sowed death in a place of prayer and consolation”, prays for victims and “beloved French people, that they may respond to evil with good”

Bishop of Nice: “My sadness as a human being is infinite in the face of what other so-called human beings can do”


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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.