RIVESALTES, FRANCE (AFP) - French President Francois Hollande on Thursday (July 28) brushed aside comments by White House hopeful Donald Trump that France was "no longer" the country it was because of a string of deadly terrorist attacks.
"France will always be France, because France will never yield and because France is always the bearer of ideals, values and principles, for which we are recognised throughout the world," Mr Hollande said in a speech in the southwest town of Rivesaltes.
"When you lower your standards, you are no longer what you are. That's something that may happen to others, on the other side of the Atlantic," Mr Hollande added, referring indirectly to Mr Trump without naming him.
During a news conference in Florida on Wednesday, the US Republican presidential nominee brought up the murder of an elderly French priest, and said a friend who recently visited the country told him: "I wouldn't go to France.... France is no longer France."
"They won't like me for saying that," Mr Trump added, "but you see what happened in Nice. You see what happened yesterday with the priest, who is supposed to be a spectacular man. France is no longer France."
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls had already reacted on Wednesday evening on Twitter saying France was still France and strong.
Both the truck attack July 14 in Nice that claimed 84 lives and the attack on the French church, in which two attackers slit the throat of 86-year-old priest Jacques Hamel, have been claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)