Top Kurdistan Region official condemns French church attack

The Kurdistan Region condemns the deadly attack on a church in France, the region’s president, Nechirvan Barzani, tweeted on Friday.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Region condemns the deadly attack on a church in France, the region’s president, Nechirvan Barzani, tweeted on Friday.

Barzani’s tweet followed a day after three people in France’s southeastern city of Nice were murdered in a terrorist assault—which was committed in a church.

“I condemn the terror act against civilians in the French city of Nice,” Barzani tweeted, as he extended his condolences to “the people and government of France and share their grief during this difficult time.”

On early Thursday, a 21-year-old Tunisian, carrying a 30-centimeter-long knife, attacked worshipers inside the Basilica of Notre-Dame in the center of the city. It was the third such assault in France in little over a month.

Charlie Hebdo Cartoons: a long-lasting controversy

In 2005, a Danish newspaper published 12 cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. Many were insulting, but the newspaper justified their publication on the grounds that it was contributing to the debate about Islam that had followed the 9/11 attacks four years before, in which 3,000 Americans died.

Seven years after the cartoon’s initial publication, the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, republished them. And three years after that—in January 2015—Muslim radicals, claiming ties to Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, launched a three day terrorist spree in Paris, beginning with an assault on the magazine’s office. Seventeen innocent people were killed in the attacks.

Those who actually committed the murders were killed in shoot-outs with police, but those who had supported the attacks were arrested, and the trial of the accomplices began last month.

Thursday’s attack marked the third terrorist assault in France since the trial began. On Sept. 25, a 25 year old Pakistani immigrant, wielding a knife, injured two people outside the old offices of Charlie Hebdo. He did not realize that the magazine had moved to a secret location and somehow thought that his victims were staff of the magazine.

Three weeks later, on Oct. 16, a schoolteacher, who had used the Charlie Hebdo cartoons to teach a lesson about secularism in France, was decapitated in a Paris suburb by an 18 year-old Chechen immigrant.

The controversy and violence in France was stoked from the outside, including by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who led criticism of the French government and its response to the terrorist assaults, even as Erdogan pursued other controversies, including a threat to attack the Kurds in Syria.

Read More: Erdogan threatens Kurds, but overshadowed by Charlie Hebdo

French Support for Kurds

Although there were protests against France in many Muslim countries, the response in the Kurdistan Region was different. France has been a long-standing friend of the Kurds, while Turkey has generally been seen as their oppressor.

Already on Wednesday, a high-ranking delegation from the Kurdistan Parliament visited the French Consulate General in Erbil to show support and appreciation to the French people and their government for the support that the country has provided Kurds in the Kurdistan Region and elsewhere.

Read More: Kurdistan Parliament ‘supports’ France, leadership: Deputy speaker

Similarly, Kurdish authors and intellectuals have also joined in showing their support for and appreciation of France at this difficult point in time.

Editing by Laurie Mylroie