Paris (Agencies) : President Hollande met with religious leaders in initiative to maintain peace and harmony after the killing of a priest by terrorists at a church in Normandy. Hollande met religious leaders on Wednesday, where he called for calm and solidarity in the aftermath of the Normandy attack. Emphasizing on democracy and unity being pillars of France President Hollande appealed to the French citizens to keep calm in efforts to head off escalating religious tensions in the country. Hollande is seen making strong efforts to maintain religious harmony in the country.
Father Jacques Hamel, the 85 year old Catholic priest was brutally killed by ISIS terrorists. The attackers also tried holding hostages at the church. The police killed both the terrorists and foiled the attempt.
French PM, Manuel Valls has strongly condemned the killing of Father Hamel. He accused that there is a conspiracy to incite religious war by this killing. He said that by killing the priest one religious group is being provoked to attack the other group. “French citizens should be vary of such conspiracy”.
France is consistently being hit by terrorist attacks and the French citizens have been whipped up in frenzy after this latest attack. The priest’s slaying left France reeling once again after the Bastille Day attack that killed 84 in Nice. It has also prompted new questions about the government’s anti-terror policies.
French police and security services are fast approaching the limit of their capacity to pre-empt the attacks, worn down by dealing with the threat posed by thousands of extremists believed to be on French soil. Police and local officials say the country is struggling to hire and train forces fast enough. The security forces are also under tremendous strain after this latest attack with the threat of riots breaking out particularly in the areas having large or majority immigrant population.
The right wing leaders in France have taken to an aggressive stance, piling the pressure on the government. Political divisions reopened within hours of the church attack, with the center-right opposition lawmakers demanding the government take an even harder line to combat radical activity. Marine Le Pen, President of the National Front which represents the far-right wing registered a strong reaction. Her niece, Marion Le Pen joined the military reserve urging patriot youth to follow in her footsteps.
Ex-President Nicholas Sarkozy has also expressed grave concerns over the Normandy killing, “In future, France has to chalk out severe action plan against the terrorists”.
The pressure on the France government has increased severely due to the scathing statements made by leaders like the ex-President Sarkozy and Marine Le Pen. President Hollande and his government have centered their response on a call for solidarity and against enacting sweeping restrictions on fundamental rights.