A message of sympathy to French nationals living locally and a warning to the whole community against any attempt to scapegoat different sections of the community, has been issued by the Bedfordshire Euro MP in the wake of yesterday’s terrorist attack in France.
In a statement Richard Howitt MEP said: “I watched with horror and revulsion the pictures of the terrorist attack in Nice, as people gathered to celebrate Bastille Day in a spirit of national unity and friendship. The victims were subject to an atrocious and unprovoked attack.
“The first reaction must be to express our deepest sympathies and sense of shock as victims remain seriously injured and families grieve for the dead, in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attack.
“As a Member of the European Parliament for the East of England, I would like to convey my condolences to everyone tragically affected in these events, their families and for those who have sadly lost their lives.
“We stand in solidarity with our neighbours in France in condemning such a heinous act on innocent people who were simply enjoying a day of national celebration. There is no excuse and no justification for these attacks.
“Too often in recent memory we have stood together in condemning terrorism, wherever it has taken place on our continent and in our world. The British people extended the hand of unity to the French people after the Charlie Hebdo attacks and the Paris shootings. Today we do the same.
“It is important that we do not let this latest attack inflame our society into anger, a backlash and further division, which is what the terrorists ultimately want.
“Instead we must choose to stand in unity and peace, refusing to be provoked. All of us must abide by the rule of law and democracy. We must condemn those who will seek to exploit these tragic events for their own ends and not blame any religion or section of society for the actions of an individual.
“This is now the time for all moderate, reasonable and sensible people to reject extremism in all its forms.
“Today my thoughts are with the French communities across my constituency as they come to terms with these terrible events and with anyone in our community falsely scapegoated for actions which all of us stand against.
“Whichever beliefs people may have about our relations with the rest of Europe, let us join with France, at this incredibly sad time, shoulder to shoulder in solidarity.”