Saudi man arrested in Jeddah after attacking French consulate guard with a 'sharp tool'

29 Oct 2020

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A picture taken from a distance shows the French consulate in the Saudi Red Sea port of Jeddah on October 29, 2020. — AFP
A picture taken from a distance shows the French consulate in the Saudi Red Sea port of Jeddah on October 29, 2020. — AFP

A Saudi man was arrested in the Red Sea city of Jeddah after attacking and wounding a security guard with a “sharp tool” at the French consulate on Thursday, local police said.

A statement from the Makkah region's police said the guard suffered “minor injuries” and that “legal action” was being taken against the perpetrator.

The French Embassy said the consulate was subject to an “attack by knife which targeted a guard”, adding the guard was taken to hospital and his life was not in danger.

“The French Embassy strongly condemns this attack against a diplomatic outpost which nothing could justify,” it said in a statement.

The attack occurred after a knife-wielding man, reportedly shouting “Allahu Akbar”, beheaded a woman and killed two other people in the French city of Nice earlier in the day. Nice's mayor described the attack as terrorism.

France is still reeling from the beheading earlier this month of a school teacher by a man of Chechen origin. The attacker had said he wanted to punish the teacher for showing pupils cartoons of Holy Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) in a civics lesson.

Since Samuel Paty's killing, French officials have reasserted the right to display the cartoons as a matter of free expression, and the images have been widely displayed at marches in solidarity with the teacher.

That has stirred anger in parts of the Muslim world, with some governments accusing French President Emmanuel Macron of pursuing an anti-Islam agenda.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Imran Khan denounced Macron’s remarks on blasphemous caricatures, calling them an “encouragement of Islamophobia”.

“By attacking Islam, clearly without having any understanding of it, President Macron has attacked and hurt the sentiments of millions of Muslims in Europe and across the world,” said Prime Minister Imran, adding that “the last thing the world wants or needs is further polarisation”.

He also asked social media giant Facebook to place a ban on Islamophobia and hate against Islam just as it had placed on the Holocaust.

Saudi Arabia on Tuesday condemned cartoons offending the Prophet Mohammad but held back from echoing calls by other Muslim states for action against his images being shown in France.