Zarif condemns Nice attack, urges sanity

October 30, 2020 - 13:33

TEHRAN – Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif denounced the Thursday terrorist attack in the French city of Nice that killed at least three citizens, saying this “vicious cycle” which is result of hate speech “must be replaced by reason and sanity”

“We strongly condemn today's terrorist attack in Nice,” tweeted the foreign minister.

On Thursday morning, a 21-year-old Tunisian man, who arrived in Paris in early October through Italy, walked into the Notre-Dame basilica in the coastal city of Nice carrying three knives. He attacked people who have just arrived at the church to pray.

The attack was the second one attributed to Muslim attackers in a fortnight. The first attacked happened nearly two weeks ago when a teenager hailing from Russia's Muslim-majority Chechnya region in the North Caucasus killed a French teacher in a Paris suburb after the teacher displayed a blasphemous cartoon disparaging the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).

The cartoon, which sent shock waves throughout the Muslim world, was recently republished by the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. French President Emanuel Macron has further exacerbated the anger among Muslims by supporting the cartoon and insisting on displaying it in public places, a move that was widely denounced in the Muslim world as promoting hatred against Muslims and creating fissures between Muslims and Christians.

During a memorial service for the murdered teacher, Macron expressed support for Charlie Hebdo, saying France “will not give up our cartoons.” These remarks sparked a wave of outrage across the Muslim world, prompting the people of some Muslim countries to launch a campaign aiming to boycott French products. Besides, Muslim leaders said the freedom of speech should not be used to provoke Muslims by insulting a prophet who is deeply revered by about 2 billion people across the world.

Zarif said what is going on in France is a “vicious cycle” that is created by hate speech in the first place.

“This escalating vicious cycle—hate speech, provocations & violence—must be replaced by reason & sanity,” noted the chief Iranian diplomat. “We should recognize that radicalism only breeds more radicalism, and peace cannot be achieved with ugly provocations.”  

Zarif also published a photo of a Quran verse praising the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).

“And we have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds,” the verse quotes God as telling the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).

The foreign minister has previously pointed out that insulting nearly 2 billion Muslims for crimes committed by extremists is an abuse of freedom of speech.

“Muslims are the primary victims of the "cult of hatred"—empowered by colonial regimes & exported by their own clients. Insulting 1.9B Muslims—& their sanctities—for the abhorrent crimes of such extremists is an opportunistic abuse of freedom of speech. It only fuels extremism,” Zarif said in a tweet on October 26, after Macron supported the teacher’s displaying of cartoons insulting the Prophet in his class.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has also taken a jab at the French leadership for instigating hate speech and violating ethics.

“The Westerners should know that the great prophet of Islam is loved by all Muslims and freedom-seekers of the world. Insulting the Prophet is a violation of ethics and an insult to all Muslims, prophets of God, and human values,” Rouhani was quoted by the official website of the president as saying at a cabinet session last week.

The president added, “Surprisingly, those who claim to have culture and democracy encourage others to commit violence and bloodshed, though unwittingly.”

Other leaders from around the Muslim world also called on France to placate its Muslim population by stopping all kinds of provocations against Islamic sanctities. Some Muslim religious and political leaders even accused Macron of instigating anti-Muslim sentiments for partisan and political gains.  

SM/PA

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