France is in dire need of reconciliation, but President Emmanuel Macron’s clampdown on Islamic extremism is only polarizing society, Karin Kneissl, ex-Austrian foreign minister told RT, commenting on the stabbing attack in Nice.

Following the beheading of schoolteacher, Samuel Paty, by a radicalized Chechen refugee earlier this month, Macron vowed to defended French values and take a firm stand against Islamist extremism, announcing the closure of several mosques on accusations of promoting fringe ideology.

“The president had many, many people behind him when he was very harsh on the execution of the teacher,” Kneissl, who was Austria’s foreign minister between 2017 and 2109, pointed out. “This topic dominated everything” and even removed the looming Covid-19 lockdown in France from the headlines.

However, it could have been done in a little more conciliatory way because there are six million Muslims living in France.

“You have a certain percentage, who are radical,” but the majority of Muslims just want to be French citizens and live their lives, she said.

“What France needs right now is much more a social cohesion, a sort of reconciliation… but here I observe that things have been going in a more polarizing way,” Kneissl said of Macron’s steps to counter extremism.

Paty’s gruesome murder was allegedly provoked by the teacher showing caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed to his students during a lesson on freedom of speech. The cartoons, which are blasphemous to Muslims, were back in the spotlight recently after they were republished by French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. The controversial act was dedicated to the beginning of the trial on the accomplices of Islamist gunmen, who attacked the magazine’s office in 2015 over the same caricatures, killing 12 people.