The French ambassador to Ireland, Jean-Pierre Thébault has described the terror attack in Nice as an assault on the value of freedom.
“My thoughts are of great sadness, yesterday (Thursday) in the afternoon we were celebrating with our Irish friends Bastille Day, which means freedom, with over 1,000 guests and it was really a great moment of joy and of connection.
“Bastille Day means freedom. So when the news of the attack broke it was immediately a feeling of deep sadness because it is exactly what’s at stake; it is an attack on freedom,” ambassador Thébault said.
The ambassador said all countries need to act against the threat of terror and do so immediately.
“Terrorism, Islamic terrorism, is now the threat. We need to now, very seriously, act upon it.
“It’s impossible to let our freedom, our population be so constantly threatened,” he said.
Ambassador Thébault was speaking on Morning Ireland, giving his reaction to the lorry attack in Nice that has so far claimed almost 90 lives, including those of several children.
He described the current situation in France, where there have been seven attacks since January 2015, as a “war”.
“It’s a war where we’re all engaged. Nobody can feel that it is a question for others.
“If we don’t stand for our freedom and stand against those terrorists, we lose this war,” he said.
“It’s true France is a specific target for terrorists, because of these values that we are upholding,” he added.
However, he pointed out that these attacks were not confined to mainland Europe but were occurring elsewhere too.
“We should also think of those attacks that are happening on a constant basis in Iraq, in Syria and in all those places where terrorists are on the loose, so fundamentally this attack is a wake-up call, this war is not over,” the ambassador said. He likened France’s Bastille Day to Ireland’s St Patrick’s Day, in terms of the significance of the timing of the attack, and said that freedom is a common value to every country and individual.
“This is not a battle where it’s France’s freedom that’s at stake or Ireland’s freedom — it’s also European freedom, it’s also the freedom of each and every individual who thinks that leading a decent life is important,” said ambassador Thébault.
He emphasised that reaction to the atrocity, on both an individual and collective level, was crucial. The ambassador added that terrorists act unfairly in the name of Islam.
“Fundamentally this is the question that is now on the table: How can we individually and collectively face these challenges? How can someone intentionally kill children, because it was known that there were children there?
“We are fighting something which is irrational, yet which is really well organised. We know where the roots of the problem are — it is an organisation which calls itself Islamic but which is abusing this term.
“It’s impossible to let it continue,” he said.
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