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Nice Terrorism Attack: Leaders from around the world condemn the attack

Leaders show their solidarity towards the victims of a deadly attack in the French city of Nice.

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  • Leaders from around the world are condemning the Bastille Day attack in Nice, France and expressing their condolences for the victims.
  • From US President Barack Obama to Pope Francis, all of them show their solidarity towards the attack
  • At least 84 people are dead and 52 critically wounded.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack and called for intensified efforts to confront terrorism and violent extremism, in a statement Friday.

Ban “stands firmly by the French Government and people as they confront this threat and stresses the need to intensify regional and international efforts to combat terrorism and violent extremism,” the UN statement said.

He expressed his deepest sympathy and condolences to the victims’ families of “this horrific act” and wished a speedy recovery to the many injured.

Watch UN Security Council President Koro Bessho 

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U.S. President Barack Obama posted a statement on Twitter Thursday night sending “thoughts and prayers” to the families of those killed in the attack and referring to France as the United States “oldest ally.”

“On this Bastille Day, we are reminded of the extraordinary resilience and democratic values that have made France an inspiration to the entire world, and we know that the character of the French Republic will endure long after this devastating and traffic loss of life,” Obama said.

Secretary of State John Kerry, who had been in France to celebrate Bastille Day, called the attack “horrendous,” and said, “the United States will continue to stand firmly with the French people during this time of tragedy.”

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko lays flowers to pay tribute to the victims of the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice, in front of the French embassy in Kiev, Ukraine, July 15, 2016.
Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko lays flowers to pay tribute to the victims of the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice, in front of the French embassy in Kiev, Ukraine, July 15, 2016.

European Council president Donald Tusk noted the significance of the attack’s timing and called on all people to stand with France in its time of need.

“It is a tragic paradox that the victims of the attack people celebrating liberty, quality and fraternity,” Tusk said while attending a meeting with Asian and European leaders in Mongolia. “We will stand united with the families of victims, the French people and the government in the fight against violence and hatred.”

NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said he was “appalled and saddened” by the attack and that alliance’s other member nations “stand in strong solidarity with the people of France.” The attack in Nice “targeted innocent people and the core values for which NATO stands,” he said. “But terrorism will never defeat democracy, freedom and our open societies.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was also attending the meeting in Mongolia, pledged solidarity with France in the aftermath of the attack, saying that “Germany stands alongside France in the fight against terrorism. Words can barely express the bond between us and our French friends.” Merkel added that she was “completely convinced that we will win this fight despite all difficulties.”

German President Joachim Gauck, who is on a state visit in Uruguay, said Friday “the 14th of July, the day when France celebrates its national day, represents the values of the French Revolution, which are our values as well,” adding that “an attack on France, therefore, is an attack on the entire free world.”

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Britain’s newly confirmed Prime Minister Theresa May called the attack “horrifying” and said Britain will stand with France in its time of mourning. “We must redouble our efforts to defeat these brutal murderers who want to destroy our way of life,” May said Friday.

Pope Francis denounced the attack, saying “we condemn in an absolute manner all manifestations of homicidal folly, hatred, terrorism and attacks against peace.”

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said that “the images coming out of Nice make words stick in the throat, fingers halt on the keyboard. Pain, emotion, solidarity.” There is “a moral duty to react,” Renzi said, stressing that “Italy and the international community undertake not to leave the French on their own.”

Spain’s Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, who was also attending the meeting in Mongolia, said he called his counterparts in France to express his grief. “We are very sorry and very much with the French people and the French government,” he said.

Image Source: www.cbc.ca
Justin Trudeau. Image Source: www.cbc.ca

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also took to Twitter to send a message to those in France affected by the attack — in both English and French.

In two separate tweets, Trudeau said, “Canadians are shocked by tonight’s attack in Nice. Our sympathy is with the victims, and our solidarity with the French people.” One of the messages was in English, while the other was in French.

Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin Image Source: www.cbc.ca

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was “shocked by the violence and exceptional cynicism” of the attack in Nice. Terrorism can be defeated only if “all civilized mankind pulls efforts together” to fight militants, their leaders as well as targeting their financial backers “wherever they are hiding,” Putin said.

Putin sent condolences to French President Francois Hollande on Friday and said that Russia is willing to work closely with France and other countries to fight terrorism which is “devoid of any human moral.”

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China’s Premier Li Keqiang said “we strongly condemn terrorism of all forms. We express our condolences to the victims and we will fight all kinds of terrorism.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday the attack shows “terrorism has no religion, race or nationality,” adding that “those who carried out this brutal incident have nothing to do with humanity. In essence these barbarians have no place in this world or should they have.” The world needs to see that for “for the terror organizations, there is no difference between Turkey and France, between Iraq and Belgium, between Saudi Arabia and the United States,” Erdogan said.

The international response comes after a man drove a truck through a crowed part of Nice’s seaside promenade, leaving at least 84 people dead and dozens more injured, some severely.

(Published with permission from VoaNews)

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France Family Wants to Repatriate their Grandchildren from Syria

“The question is whether to repatriate jihadists who left France, burned their French passports, and headed off to associate with Islamist fundamentalists, to become barbarians and strike our country".

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Jihadis
FILE - The families of missing British girls Amira Abase and Shamima Begum pose for a picture after being interviewed by the media in central London, Feb. 22, 2015. VOA

In northern France, Lydie and Patrice Maninchedda have been waging an uphill battle, sustained by local media, to repatriate their three grandchildren from Syria. They have never met the children, ranging from one to five years. Nor has the couple seen their daughter, Julie, since she left with her then-husband to join the Islamic State group in 2014.

Then came an anonymous message last month that Julie was dead — and the grandchildren, now orphans, were detained in a Kurdish camp for internally displaced people.

“It is overwhelming to find them,” Patrice Maninchedda told France Bleu radio, of the three, who are considered by law to be French nationals. “Like all grandparents, we want to see our grandchildren. They need to be reintegrated into a normal life and family.”

The Maninchedda’s hopes may be realized sooner rather than later. The planned U.S. troop withdrawal from Syria prompted the French government to announce it was considering repatriating dozens of citizens now detained by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in the northeastern part of the country.

While some are hardened jihadists or their wives, roughly three-quarters are children under the age of seven, according to French Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet.

With the Islamic State group all but territorially vanquished in Syria, U.S. President Donald Trump urged European nations to repatriate captured fighters and put them on trial at home — a demand rejected for now by the French government, while Germany said doing so would be difficult.

Jihadis
FILE – French Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet leaves following the weekly cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, Oct. 17, 2018. VOA

“At this stage France is not responding to the demands” of Trump, Belloubet told France 2 television, saying Paris would consider repatriating French IS fighters on a case-by-case basis. But reports suggest French officials have agreed to repatriate French orphans now in Syria, although those children who are still with their parents are more problematic, and would need parental consent to be separated.

Similar dilemmas are faced elsewhere in Western Europe, from which nearly 6,000 nationals left to join IS ranks, according to the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization, at King’s College London. Many died in battle, and more than 1,700 have returned, it estimates.

Repatriating both the fighters and their children is politically explosive. Critics worry it will be difficult to prove in court crimes committed on the battlefields of Iraq and Syria, and that the children raised under Islamic State occupation could grow into dangerous adults.

Shaping public opinion too are the 2015 Paris attacks, which involved some returnee fighters.

Jihaids
France’s far-right leader Marine le Pen joins many other politicians in opposing the return of French fighters, saying they should be judged in Syria and Iraq. VOA

“The question is whether to repatriate jihadists who left France, burned their French passports, and headed off to associate with Islamist fundamentalists, to become barbarians and strike our country,” said far-right leader Marine Le Pen in an interview.

“And the answer is no,” she added of the adults. “They should be judged in the places where they committed the atrocities. It’s the very least one can do, out of respect for the victims.”

Le Pen did not offer an opinion on the fate of the minors, describing them simply as “instrumentalized.”

Yet by not taking action, others argue, France risks having jihadis and their families disappear into a turmoil-torn region, posing a potentially serious security threat later on.

Even for children, the challenges of repatriation are massive, experts say. While some may have been sheltered from the fighting, many others are likely brainwashed by jihadi ideology. Still others may have witnessed or participated in horrific acts. Their background may come to haunt them — and France — later on.

“They are children, they aren’t guilty of crimes committed by their parents. And from a humanitarian point of view we must welcome and take care of them,” said sociologist Gerald Brunner, of the Jean Jaures Foundation — even as he warned that dealing with the returnees would be “difficult.”

‘We’d be right to imagine the worst, that they could commit a terrorist act on our territory,” Brunner said, adding, “authorities cannot avoid posing this question.”

Jihadis
Islamist expert Farhad Khosrokhavar says France and other European governments have been slow to act on repatriating children of jihadist fighters. VOA

Until recently, the preferred option was to do very little for the minors — unless their families pressed French authorities for action, said Farhad Khosrokhavar, a sociologist and expert on radical Islam.

“The French government—and one can generalize this to most of the Europeans—they don’t want them back,” Khosrokhavar said, in an interview last year. “Because they are afraid of them, and they know there will be problems.”

Jihadis
FILE – Renu Begum, eldest sister of missing sister of missing British girl Shamima Begum, holds a picture of her sister while being interviewed by the media in central London, Feb. 22, 2015. VOA

Today, repatriation claims involving children are growing, adding to the pressure. In Britain, 19-year-old Shamima Begum is asking to return home with her newborn, four years after joining Islamic State in Syria as a schoolgirl.

In neighboring Belgium, a court ordered the government in December to repatriate half-a-dozen children and their mothers detained by Kurdish fighters in northern Syria.

In France, fewer than 70 children had returned as of a year ago out of up to 700 in Iraq and Syria, according to different estimates. Most are under the responsibility of a court outside Paris. Some are placed in foster care; others taken in by their families. Those over 13 who participated in fighting can be detained, according to media reports.

Now, as France is pressed to bring back the rest, experts say there is no easy answer or blueprint to deal with them.

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“The ideal would be to give them the opportunity to live with their mother and of course follow them psychologically and institutionally in order to deradicalize the mother,” said Khosrokhavar, the Islamist expert. But so far, there seems little appetite for repatriating parents en masse.

Sociologist Brunner suggests applying other examples of indoctrination — including children brainwashed by religious cults — in dealing with the IS minors.

“Nobody is ready for this kind of situation,” he said. “Nobody knows exactly what to do. The only we know is we can’t do nothing.” (VOA)