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O'Toole defends free speech in wake of terrorist attack in France

"Today, France is in mourning," O'Toole began bluntly.

Noah David Alter Toronto
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Conservative Party Leader Erin O'Toole shared a short video expressing his commitment to standing up for shared Canadian and French values in the wake of the Islamist terrorist attack in Nice, France on Thursday.

The attack took place at the Basilica of Notre-Dame, the largest church in the city. The terrorist took the lives of three people in a stabbing spree, including an old man who was "virtually beheaded." Upon arrest, the terrorist was heard repeatedly shouting "Allahu Akbar!"

"Today, France is in mourning," O'Toole began bluntly.

The newly-instated Conservative leader referred to the mass stabbing as "another Islamist attack" and "another attack on democratic values, on liberties."

Expressing his solidarity with the people of France, O'Toole called the act "an attack on all democracies," and reaffirmed that Canadians and the French should stand strongly in support of common principles.

The attack is the second act of Islamist terrorism in France in October. Less than two weeks earlier a student beheaded his teacher for displaying a Charlie Hebdo depiction of the Islamic prophet Mohammed. In September, an Islamist terrorist committed a stabbing outside of the satirical French magazine's former headquarters in an act of vengeance for their supposed blasphemy. Charlie Hebdo was previously the subject of an Islamist terrorist attack in 2015, when two gunmen murdered 12 journalists in an attack which shocked the world.

The French government has stood defiantly against attacks on freedom of speech, projecting Charlie Hebdo's cartoons of Mohammed onto the walls of government buildings. French President Emmanuel Macron has vigorously defended the right to freedom of expression in the face of Islamist intimidation.

Macron's defense of French values, however, has come under attack in the Islamic world, with leaders from various Islamic countries condemning Macron's position. Some figures, including Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan, have called for boycotts of French goods.

Canada needs to be "proud of its liberties, proud of its openness, and our freedom of expression," O'Toole, who has staunchly promoted freedom of expression in Canada, proclaimed in solidarity. "To all my French friends, Canada is with you through this."

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