French Jewish Community ‘Shocked, Horrified’ Over Nice Terror Attack; Groups Call on Government to Increase Vigilance Against Jihadists
French Jewish groups condemned Thursday’s bloody terror attack in Nice — which left at least 84 people dead and hundreds injured — calling on the government to increase its vigilance in combating terror.
Joël Mergui, president of the French Consistoire — a Jewish community umbrella group — called on French leaders to act against Islamic extremism, which he compared to Nazism.
“Like the United States and Israel, whose population is also affected by this new type of unconventional warfare on a global scale, our country must resist Islamism, this new denier of human rights, today’s Nazis,” he said.
“The hijacking of a truck and making it a weapon of war shows once again that the enemies of democracy will stop at nothing to bring death, chaos and terror, with the sole objective of imposing their jihadist vision on the world,” Mergui added.
Friends of French Jewry — a group working to secure Jewish institutions across the country — said it was “shocked and horrified at the horrendous attack.”
Applauding the efforts of local law enforcement and emergency response units, the group said it “trusts that President Hollande and his cabinet will enact tough anti-terrorism measures to help prevent future attacks.”
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families of this tragedy. We pledge to redouble our efforts to help secure local institutions, and ensure a safe and free environment for French Jewry,” the group stated.
The country’s leading Jewish representative body, the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF), said the latest attack is indicative that the world is being engulfed in a “hydra of terrorism.”
“More than ever, the national community must be united and strong. The fight against terrorism must also be global. The terrorists have the same objectives in Paris, Nice, Brussels, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and around the world,” the group stated.
On Thursday evening, as crowds gathered to watch a fireworks display marking Bastille Day, 31-year-old French-Tunisian Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel plowed a large truck through groups of pedestrians. According to a local Jewish official in Nice, at least six Jews are wounded or missing.
An eyewitness at the scene of Thursday’s attack spoke with The Algemeiner shortly afterwards, recalling the carnage and mayhem following the events.
“We were coming back from a restaurant with a few friends just in front of the place of the attack,” the witness, who did not wish to be named, said. After realizing something catastrophic had happened, he rushed to the scene of the attack with family members.
“As soon as we reached the place we started to see bodies all over the place,” the eyewitness said. “Both my parents are doctors so we went out to help the injured people… the three of us stayed on the scene for an hour or so until the military arrived to the area and started to evacuate all the bodies.”
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls declared three days of national mourning beginning Saturday in honor of the victims, at least 10 of which were children.