A knife attack in the French city of Nice has left at least three people dead and multiple others injured on Thursday after a man went on a stabbing spree outside a church. The attack is extremely condemnable and tragic and reflects an alarming rise in terrorist activities across the world. The Pakistan Foreign Office has strongly condemned the stabbing and expressed condolences on the loss of precious lives.

Yet what has transpired in the wake of such attacks is also very unfortunate. Instead of proper investigation for the root cause behind these attacks, whose answers often lie in unemployment, economic disparity and discrimination, the French government has chosen to scapegoat minorities and religion instead. The French administration appears to be adopting a right-wing hardline approach, by demonising Islam and singling out Muslims to blame for the attack.

President Macron must realise that throwaway irresponsible statements blaming religion for terrorism will only inflame tensions and cause a further increase in attacks. The Nice attack comes just days after thousands rallied across France in solidarity with a teacher who was beheaded for showing pupils cartoons of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The more Macron sidelines an entire religion for the actions of a few, and encourages Islamophobia instead of countering it, the more fuel he gives to those who perpetrate these attacks, who benefit from the Muslim population being isolated. Even leaders such as Canadian PM Trudeau have come out and drawn a clear line between freedom of speech and hate speech.

Adopting a right-wing stance and discriminating against minorities may win Macron some election popularity, but it will not help France’s vulnerability to terrorist attacks. A better approach would be to try to make amends to those whose sentiments have been constantly offended and singled out, and build tolerance. Freedom of speech has its limits in every legal system; the kind of speech which leads to violence or discrimination must be rejected.