explosive attack injures several in non-Muslim cemetery during November 11 ceremony

Several people were injured on Wednesday, November 11, in an explosive attack at the non-Muslim cemetery in the Saudi city of Jeddah, during a ceremony bringing together Western diplomats to commemorate the armistice of 1918. “The security services have launched an investigation into the cowardly aggression during a gathering of foreign consuls”, said the governorate of Mecca, on which depends the holy city located in the west of the country.

“A Greek consular employee and a Saudi policeman were slightly injured”, the governorate said in a statement. A Briton was also reportedly injured, which has not been confirmed on the Saudi or British side.

This drama comes two weeks after a knife attack in the same city, in which a guard from the French consulate was injured, against the backdrop of anger among Muslims over the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad by a Parisian newspaper.

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In a joint statement, the consulates represented during the ceremony on Wednesday “Strongly condemned this cowardly attack on innocent people”. These are the consulates of France, Greece, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“To prosecute those responsible for this cowardly act”

The French foreign ministry has “Firmly” condemned ” this cowardly attack that nothing can justify ”, calling on the Saudi authorities “To shed all the light” on this act and “Identify and prosecute the perpetrators”.

For its part, the European Union (EU) mission in the kingdom also wished “A rapid and thorough investigation”, while the British secretary for the Middle East and North Africa asked Riyadh to “Prosecute those responsible for this cowardly act”, in a reaction on Twitter.

Roads leading to the cemetery in the center of the city were closed by Saudi police, reported a photographer from Agence France-Presse at the scene.

Saudi police have closed access to a non-Muslim cemetery in the city of Jeddah, where a bomb attack struck a commemoration of the 1918 armistice, attended by foreign diplomats, on November 11.

The cemetery which predates the birth of the Saudi kingdom in 1932 contains the remains of many non-Muslims, including those of a French soldier who died in the 1914-1918 war and a British soldier who died in World War II (1939-1945). Several countries, including France and Belgium, celebrate, this Wednesday, the 102e anniversary of the armistice concluded between Germany and the Allies, which marked the end of the First World War.

A context of tensions linked to the cartoons of Muhammad

Comments by French President Emmanuel Macron on the right to caricature in the name of freedom of expression have indeed sparked anger in the Middle East, and more widely in the Muslim world. Mr. Macron had promised not to “Give up caricatures” during a national tribute to Professor Samuel Paty, beheaded by an Islamist on October 16 for showing caricatures of the Prophet in a course on freedom of expression.

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In some Muslim-majority countries, worshipers have reacted angrily to Mr. Macron’s comments: portraits of the French president have been burned during demonstrations and a campaign has been launched to boycott French products.

Mr. Macron tried to ease tensions by ensuring that he understood, in an interview with Al-Jazeera, that Muslims could be “Shocked” by the cartoons of Muhammad, while denouncing the “Manipulations” and ” violence “.

France, Austria, Germany and the EU held a mini-summit by videoconference on Tuesday to try to strengthen the European response to terrorism, following the latest attacks in France and Vienna on November 2.

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The Saudi kingdom, criticized for its promotion of a rigorous Islam, Wahhabism, for its part is trying to present itself in a new light, with liberal social reforms undertaken in recent years under the leadership of Mohammed Ben Salman, who in the same time accentuated the repression of dissenting voices since his accession to the status of crown prince, in 2017.

The World with AFP


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