The president traveled to the city to show solidarity with the Catholics. The country is in shock amid a terror alert and COVID lockdown.
With the French shocked and overwhelmed by a new confinement that begins on Thursday night, President Emmanuel Macron acknowledged that the attack on the Notre Dame de la Asunción basilica in Nice it was “An Islamist attack”, simultaneous to the attack on the French consulate in Djeddah.
Seven thousand military will be displaced throughout the country from now on “to ensure the protection of places of worship and allow the reopening of schools in France”, where a tribute will be held on Monday in each school to the beheaded teacher Samuel Paty, for having shown in his free speech class, the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
It was a speech of firmness, solidarity and support to Catholics, in a France “under urgent attack”, from Nice, in front of the basilica where the events took place. After greeting and listening to the Nice municipal police, who managed to neutralize the attacker who is undergoing surgery in the hospital in serious condition, the head of state said: “Very clearly it’s france that is being attacked ”.
All the church bells in France had tolled in tribute to the victims, led by the bells of Notre Dame for the first time since its fire, when the head of state denounced “an Islamist terrorist attack.”
After recalling the brutal circumstances of the death of Father Jacques Hamel in St Etienne de Rouvray in 2016, in a small church in Normandy, Macron said his support “for Catholics from France ”.
“The entire nation is on the side of its fellow citizens,” said the president. He stressed the “support of the nation to all Catholics.”
The head of state announced the increase from 3,000 to 7,000 military personnel of Operation Sentinelle to travel across the country. A way to guarantee the safety of churches, synagogues and mosques and cemeteries where the French will go on the day of the dead.
“If they attack us it is for our values, it is for our freedom and we will not give in. We will not give in ”insisted the president.
He was accompanied by the Minister of the Interior, Gerald Darmanin, the Minister of Justice, Ëric Dupont Moretti, the Mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi and the President of the Bishops of France, Monsignor Eric de Moulins-Beaufort.
When celebrating the birth of the Prophet for Muslims and the Day of the Dead for Catholics, Macron called for sticking together as a nation. “I called for everyone’s unity. We are a community. Do not give in to the spirit of division. Firmness and unity is the line that we must all follow, ”said the president.
Saudi Arabia strongly condemned the attack in Nice. “We strongly condemn and denounce the terrorist attack that has caused deaths and injuries in Nice, France,” declared the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
On Twitter they maintained that “we reiterate our categorical rejection by the kingdom of such extremist acts that are contrary to all religions, beliefs and common sense. We call to reject the practices that summon hatred, violence and extremism ”, they maintained.
The attack on Nice came at the same time that a guard at the French consulate in the Saudi city of Djeddah was wounded by a knife attack. Neither the embassy nor the Saudi authorities have specified the motive for the attack, which occurs when there are a boycott in the Middle East against French products because of the cartoons.
A mass was celebrated in the Saint Sulpice church, which replaces the burned Notre Dame cathedral, in tribute to the victims of the Nice attack.
The perpetrator of the attack identified himself as a tunisian, in an irregular situation in France, which reached Europe via the Mediterranean Sea to the Italian island of Lampedusa. He was unknown to the French intelligence services.