Out of the 84 victims who died in the Nice attacks on France’s Bastille Day, at least 30 were Muslims, figures based on the types of funerals required by relatives released by local Nice authorities revealed Tuesday.
The Muslim victims came from or had roots in many different countries including Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, according to Otmane Aissaoui, head of a Nice mosque and president of the Union of Muslims of Alpes-Maritimes.
In response to the attack in Nice, Aissaoui called for calm and social unity. “I fear the rise of anger, with politicians conflating all issues together,” he warned in comments made to local media.
“Everyone in our country has some share of responsibility: political and media elites, associations, imams, everyone needs to question themselves.”
One of the victims, Fatima Charrihi, 62, was a mother of seven and was born in Morocco. Aissaoui said she was a regular visitor of mosques. “What I can say is that she wore the Muslim veil, she practiced a balanced and fair Islam, a genuine Islam—not the Islam of the terrorists.”
“The authors of the attacks could not be Muslims because the very first victim was Muslim,” one of Charrihi’s daughters told public TV channel France 3.
Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, the French-Tunisian driver responsible for the truck attack, was not known to French intelligence as a radical despite the Islamic State group’s claims that he was “one of (their) soldiers.”
Bouhlel had previously been convicted of road rage. His father said the attack was possibly due to a nervous breakdown and had nothing to do with religion. “He didn’t pray, he didn’t fast, he drank alcohol,” the father told AFP.
Many reports have documented that Muslims are more likely to be the victims of terror attacks than non-Muslims.
A 2011 report by the National Counterterrorism Center, a U.S. government organization, found that Muslims have been victims in 82-97 percent of terrorism-related fatalities over the past five years.
Meanwhile, the U.S.-led war on terror launched after 9/11 has killed between 1.3-2 million civilians in Muslim countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to a 97-page report in 2015 by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning doctors’ group Physicians for Social Responsibility.