Paris: President Emmanuel Macron said that he could understand if Muslims were shocked by cartoons disrespecting the Prophet Mohammad (ﷺ), as French authorities on Saturday sought to ascertain if a young Tunisian suspected of killing three people in a knife rampage inside a Nice church had outside help.
France is on edge after the republication in early September of cartoons disrespecting Prophet Mohammad (ﷺ) by the Charlie Hebdo weekly, which was followed by an attack outside its former offices, the beheading of a teacher and now the attack in Nice.
Macron sparked protests in the Muslim world after the murder earlier this month of teacher Samuel Paty — who had shown his class a cartoon disrespecting the Prophet (ﷺ) — by saying France would never renounce its right to caricature.
But in an apparent bid to reach out to Muslims, Macron gave a long interview setting out his vision to Qatar-based TV channel Al-Jazeera, seeking to strike a softer tone.
“I can understand that people could be shocked by the caricatures but I will never accept that violence can be justified,” he said.
“I consider it our duty to protect our freedoms and our rights,” he added in an extract of the interview.