A Tunisian man, armed with a knife, killed three people in the French city of Nice. The assailant was shot and arrested by the police. The latest incident took place in the Notre Dame church a few hours before the first Mass of the day was to be observed. Those killed were Vincent Loques, the fifty-five year old sexton of the church, and two women aged sixty and forty four. Incidentally, the killings took place at a time when there is a growing debate in France over the use of caricatures to express one’s views. French President Emmanuel Macron too had defended the depiction of caricatures as part of the freedom of speech in the staunchly secular country where religious symbols are kept as part of one’s personal life.
Meanwhile French Prime Minister Jean Castex has announced that the country’s threat level will be raised to its maximum after the deadly attacks in the southern city of Nice. The attacks have come at a time when the country is yet to come out of the beheading of a schoolteacher named Samuel Paty by a teenager of Chechen origin. It needs to be mentioned that the afore-mentioned teacher had showed caricatures of Prophet Mohammad to his students as part of a discussion on freedom of speech.
Though the perpetrator of the Nice killings has been arrested, the police is considering the matter as a case of a lone wolf attack.
On its part, the French Council of the Muslim Faith has condemned the Nice attack and called on French Muslims to refrain from celebrations this week marking the birth of Prophet Mohammad as a sign of mourning and in solidarity with the victims.
It needs to be stated that France has the largest number of Muslims in the Western world accounting to about 9% of the total population. This has been due to the immigration of a large number of Muslims from North Africa, particularly the countries of Algeria and Tunisia, over the decades.