France has declared the recent attack that killed three people a terrorist act. Authorities believe that the attack in Nice in the south of France could be related to the ongoing controversy over the cartoon depiction of Prophet Mohammad, the recent murder of a French teacher, and French President Emmanuel Macron's stance to protect the country's freedom of expression.
On Thursday morning, an unidentified assailant believed to be an Islam extremist stabbed three people inside the Notre-Dame Basilica church. Two of the victims, a man and a woman, died inside the church. The third victim, a woman, was able to run toward a nearby bar. She eventually died from her wounds.
Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi said that authorities have reason to believe that the perpetrator was an Islamist extremist. He said that police heard him shout "Allah Akbar" over and over again even after they had injured him.
"He cried 'Allah Akbar!' over and over, even after he was injured. The meaning of his gesture left no doubt," Estrosi told reporters.
Apart from the stabbing, two other incidents believed to be related to the controversies were also reported Thursday, while Muslims were celebrating Mawlid. In the southern town of Montfavet in France, a man was shot dead by police after threatening to shoot them with a handgun. In Saudi Arabia, a guard working outside the French consulate was stabled. The guard managed to survive after he was taken to the nearest hospital.
Macron personally visited the crime scene in Nice. In response to the attack, Macron said that the government has now been placed at high alert and additional troops are being dispatched to religious sites across the country. Macron told reporters that the country will "not give in to terrorism."
Leaders of majorly Muslim countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have publicly condemned the attacks. Religious leaders in Egypt said that these types of attacks are not "justifiable."
Tensions between France and the Muslim world escalated earlier this month after a suspected Islam extremist beheaded a French teacher for showing a caricature of the Prophet Mohammed during a free speech class. The cartoon that was shown to the students was the same one published by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in 2015. Shortly after the magazine published the cartoon, its office was attacked by two armed individuals, who shot and killed 11 staff members.