Bastille Day attack

World leaders, top clerics react with horror

Members of the public lay flowers and light candles at a make-shift memorial site for victims of the Bastille Day attack, on July 15.
Members of the public lay flowers and light candles at a make-shift memorial site for victims of the Bastille Day attack, on July 15. PHOTO: AFP

Leaders in the Middle East and Muslim clerics condemn attack and stand in solidarity with France

PARIS • Politicians and public figures from around the world, including Middle Eastern leaders and top Muslim clerics, have reacted with horror and expressions of solidarity with France to the terror attack in Nice.

"We stand in solidarity and partnership with France, our oldest ally, as they respond to and recover from this attack," said United States President Barack Obama. "On this Bastille Day, we are reminded of the extraordinary resilience and democratic values that have made France an inspiration to the entire world."

British Prime Minister Theresa May said she was "shocked and concerned by the scenes" of horror. "Our thoughts are with all those affected by this terrible incident on what was a day of national celebration," she added.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang offered his "condolences" to the victims and said China opposed all forms of terrorism.

Russian President Vladimir Putin joined in the chorus of condemnation. "Russia stands in solidarity with the people of France... we have seen once again that terrorism is completely blind to human morality," he said.

Leaders in the Middle East and Muslim clerics also decried the attack in no uncertain terms.

Sunni Islam's leading centre of learning, Al-Azhar, said the "vile terrorist attack" contradicted Islam and called for "uniting efforts to defeat terrorism and rid the world of its evil".

Prominent Egyptian Muslim cleric Shawki Allam condemned the assailant as an "extremist". "People who commit such ugly crimes are the corrupt of the earth, and follow in the footsteps of Satan... and are cursed in this life and in the hereafter," he said.

The six Gulf Arab states issued a joint statement, saying that they "strongly" condemned the "terrorist" act in Nice.

"The Gulf Cooperation Council states stand in solidarity with the French republic following this cowardly criminal incident, whose perpetrators have been stripped of all moral and human values," the bloc's secretary-general, Mr Abdullatif al-Zayani, said.

Regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia issued its own statement, condemning the "heinous terrorist" act, adding that it stands in "solidarity" with France and will "cooperate with it in confronting terrorist acts in all their forms".

United Arab Emirates (UAE) Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan said: "This heinous terrorist crime makes it imperative for all to work decisively and without hesitation to counter terrorism in all its forms and manifestations."

Both Saudi Arabia and the UAE are members of a US-led coalition, alongside France, which has carried out an air war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Riyadh's regional rival Iran also decried the "criminal terrorist incident" in Nice. "As we have repeatedly said before, terrorism is an evil phenomenon that will only be eradicated through international unity and collaboration," Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said in a statement.

Tunisia said that the attacker, who police said held joint French-Tunisian citizenship, had committed an act of "extreme cowardice", and expressed solidarity with France against the "scourge of terrorism".

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi denounced "in the strongest terms the vile terrorist attack", his office said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 16, 2016, with the headline 'World leaders, top clerics react with horror'. Print Edition | Subscribe