World leaders condemned the fatal stabbings Thursday in the French city of Nice that France has declared an Islamist terror attack.
Condemnations came from US President Donald Trump, UN chief Antonio Guterres, as well as European, Arab and Israeli leaders.
“Our hearts are with the people of France. America stands with our oldest Ally in this fight,” Trump tweeted. “These Radical Islamic terrorist attacks must stop immediately. No country, France or otherwise can long put up with it!”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted that “Israel unites in shock and condemnation of the atrocious attack at the Notre-Dame Basilica in Nice. All civilized peoples must stand in full solidarity with France against the scourge of terrorism. There can be no justification or equivocation.”
During talks with the Italian foreign minister, President Reuven Rivlin warned: “The attempt to foment war between religions is inconceivable. There is no war between Christianity and Islam, or between Judaism and Islam and we must be sure that no one is allowed to make that happen.”
Defense Minister Benny Gantz sent “deep condolences” to the French people and added: “The French government has the same right and duty as every government to take a strong hand against any type of terror that harms innocent civilians. Against extremism and terrorism, cooperation between all countries that strive for peace is needed.”
Opposition Leader Yair Lapid also condemned the attack on Twitter.
We stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of France and @EmmanuelMacron as they fight this wave of violence and hate. Free speech is sacrosanct. We must never give in to violent fundamentalism and terrorism.
— יאיר לפיד – Yair Lapid (@yairlapid) October 29, 2020
One of the first to condemn was Turkey, which is embroiled in a row with France for its permitting publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that have triggered a wave of attacks against French people.
“We strongly condemn the attack committed today inside the Notre Dame church in Nice,” a Turkish foreign ministry statement said. It expressed solidarity with France, and offered condolences to relatives of the three people killed in the attack.
‘Hateful terror attack’
Elsewhere in the Middle East, Arab and Islamic leaders drew a clear distinction between their religion and violent acts that claimed to defend it.
The grand mufti of Cairo’s Al Azhar university Ahmed al-Tayeb denounced the murders as a “hateful terror act.”
“There is nothing that justifies these heinous terror acts which are contrary to Islam’s teachings,” Tayeb said.
Egypt’s foreign ministry said it “stands as a government and people with… France in combatting this hateful incident.”
Iran condemned the attack as part of 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 recognize that radicalism breads more radicalism, and peace cannot be achieved with ugly provocation.”
Qatar voiced strong condemnation and reiterated its rejection of violence and terrorism, especially against places of worship and regardless of the motives. The foreign ministry also expressed condolences to the victims’ families.
Lebanese prime minister-designate Saad Hariri voiced his “strongest condemnation and disapproval of the heinous criminal attack,” and urged Muslims “to reject this criminal act that has nothing to do with Islam or the Prophet.”
European Union leaders quickly expressed solidarity with France, and pledged to confront “those that seek to incite and spread hatred.”
“I condemn the odious and brutal attack that has just taken place in Nice and I am with France with all my heart,” European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen tweeted. “We will remain united and determined in the face of barbarity and fanaticism.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was “deeply shaken by the brutal murders” and said “my thoughts are with the relatives of those murdered and injured. Germany stands with France at this difficult time.”
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte condemned the “cowardly attack” and said: “Our convictions are stronger than fanaticism, hatred and terror. We embrace the families of the victims and our French brothers. We are united!”
Spanish counterpart Pedro Sanchez added: “We continue to defend freedom, our democratic values, peace and the security of our citizens.”
A harder tone came from Hungary, where populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban wrote that the attack showed clearly “that our culture, our way of life and our European values are in the crosshairs of extremist terrorism. We are ready to join forces in order to protect traditional European values and the traditional European way of life.”
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who previously governed with far-right ministers, called the murders in Nice “a despicable Islamist terror attack,” adding that “France has our full solidarity. We will defend our values and European ‘way of life’ with all our might against Islamists and political Islam.”
India, UK ‘stand with France’
Indian premier Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist, strongly condemned the “heinous attack in Nice” and added that his country also “stands with France in the fight against terrorism.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was “appalled” at the “barbaric attack at the Notre-Dame Basilica,” he tweeted in English and French. “Our thoughts are with the victims and their families, and the UK stands steadfastly with France against terror and intolerance.”
Pope Francis prayed for the victims as the Vatican said that “terrorism and violence can never be accepted.
“Today’s attack has sown death in a place of love and consolation,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said. The pontiff urged people in France, a multi-cultural society, to “unite to combat evil with good.”