Published: 2020-10-29 16:04
Last Updated: 2020-10-29 16:04
Thursday, a Saudi citizen assaulted a security guard at the French Consulate in Jeddah, at a time when Muslim-majority countries are witnessing protest movements against France over the publication of cartoons embodying the Prophet Muhammad.
The attack came after a man carrying a knife in a church in Nice, southeast France, killed three people and wounded others before police arrested him.
The French embassy in Riyadh confirmed that the consulate had been attacked, noting that "the security guard was taken to the hospital, where his health condition is not a cause for concern."
The Saudi Press Agency, quoting the Makkah region police, stated that "the Special Force for Diplomatic Security was able - by the grace of God - to arrest a citizen after he attacked a security guard at the French consulate in Jeddah, resulting in minor injuries."
According to the statement, "the injured person was transferred to the hospital to receive the necessary treatment, and the perpetrator was arrested and regular measures were taken against him."
The authorities have not announced the nationality of the security guard.
"The French consulate in Jeddah was attacked this morning with a knife targeting a guard employee of a security company," the French embassy said in a statement.
The embassy strongly condemned this vicious attack against a diplomatic facility, and called on its citizens in Saudi Arabia to "take the utmost caution and caution."
Neither the Saudi authorities nor the French embassy have announced any motives behind the attack.
Security measures were tightened around the French consulate in Jeddah. An AFP photographer saw Saudi police patrolling the compound.
In Riyadh, an AFP correspondent saw two police cars outside the French embassy in the diplomatic quarter of the city, while the police prevented pedestrians from taking pictures.
Tuesday, Saudi Arabia denounced the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad published in the French newspaper "Charlie Hebdo,” affirming at the same time its condemnation of "every act of terrorism" and rejecting any attempt to link "Islam and terrorism."
Saudi Arabia called for "intellectual and cultural freedom to be a beacon that radiates respect, tolerance and peace and rejects all practices and actions that generate hatred, violence and extremism and violate the values of coexistence and mutual respect among the peoples of the world."
In France, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced Thursday raising the level of security alert in buildings, transportation and public places, following a knife attack in a church in Nice, in the southeast of the country, which killed three people.
France has recently witnessed attacks carried out by Muslim extremists, most notably the horrific crime of beheading history professor Samuel Patty, by the hand of the 18-year-old Chechen refugee, Abdullah Anzurov, due to the professor presenting cartoons of the Prophet to his students.
His death prompted Macron to pledge to suppress Islamic extremism, including closing mosques and organizations accused of inciting extremism and violence, while affirming his adherence to defending the freedom to publish cartoons.
As a result, protests against France erupted in a number of Islamic countries, and some parties urged a boycott of French products. Tensions were especially exacerbated between Macron and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the issue.
France has been on a state of security alert in anticipation of attacks since the January 15, 2015 attack on the Charlie Hebdo headquarters in Paris. Trials of those accused of participating in the assault are underway.
The attack in Jeddah highlights Saudi Arabia, which is witnessing an openness campaign after decades of militancy, as part of the crown prince's plan to diversify the economy and stop the dependence on oil, especially by attracting investments in the entertainment and tourism sectors.
Last year, a Yemeni citizen stabbed four Spaniards with a knife during an open-air theater performance in a park in Riyadh. It was the first attack against an entertainment event that is regularly organized in Riyadh and other Saudi cities.
Some Saudis warn that introducing such reforms in an extremely conservative society carries risks.
The death sentence was carried out in Yemen last April, according to the authorities, who accused the Al-Qaeda branch in Yemen of being behind the attack.