The chief of a U.N. anti-extremism body expressed “deep concern” Wednesday as Muslims around the world reacted to cartoons featuring Mohammed, saying “insulting religions and sacred religious symbols provokes hatred and violent extremism.”
Miguel Angel Moratinos, who heads the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, spoke amid growing anger in the Islamic world over France’s response to the brutal public beheading of a teacher who had shown his pupils the images as part of a class on free speech.
President Emmanuel Macron has vigorously defended the publication of the cartoons depicting the Mohammed on free speech grounds, sparking angry Muslim protests and campaigns to boycott French products.
The U.N. High Representative “is following with deep concern the growing tensions and instances of intolerance triggered by the publication of the satirical caricatures depicting Prophet Muhammed,” according to the statement.
Macron to Target Islamist ‘Separatism’ in France https://t.co/VT2z1EpUvF
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 3, 2020
“The inflammatory caricatures have also provoked acts of violence against innocent civilians who were attacked for their sheer religion, belief or ethnicity,” Moratinos said in the statement, without explicitly referring to Macron’s defence of the images.
“Insulting religions and sacred religious symbols provokes hatred and violent extremism leading to polarization and fragmentation of the society,” he warned.
Within hours of Moratinos’ call for calm and peaceful understanding, French police “neutralised” and arrested a man after a knife attack inside a church in the city of Nice which left at least three dead and several injured, as Breitbart London reported.
A second, separate incident followed in the French city of Avignon. Police shot dead an “Allah Akbar” shouting gunman during an exchange of fire, but there have been no other reported injuries.
‘Allah Akhbar’: Man With ‘Handgun’ Shot Dead in Avignon Just Hours After Nice Terror https://t.co/3xxB04MAoM
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 29, 2020
In a third incident Thursday, a knifeman was arrested outside the French consulate in Saudi Arabia after he attempted to attack a guard there. The guard was stabbed with a “sharp tool” and was taken to hospital.
France has condemned the attack and has called on Saudi Arabia to “shed light” on the circumstances surrounding the stabbing.
AFP contributed to this story