Islamist terror returned to France this morning with at least three people reportedly killed when a Moroccan man, reportedly claiming allegiance to Isis, opened fire on police and then ran into a supermarket in Trebes, shouting ‘Allah Akbar’ and vowing to avenge his “brothers in Syria”.
The gunman is now believed to have been killed by police, but there were media claims that the terrorist, apparently known to intelligence services for radicalisation, had asked for the release of Salah Abdeslam, the only survivor from the Islamist cell that killed 130 Parisians in November 2015.
The attack, the first against French civilians since the murder of two young women outside Marseille train station last October, is a reminder to the country’s political class that the Islamist menace has not gone away
Some politicians have undoubtedly become complacent in recent months, believing that France has come through the worst of the violence, despite warnings from security experts about the threat posed to the country by returning jihadists from Syria, and the release in the next two years from prison of dozens of extremists jailed for terrorist offences.
As is the case across Europe, Islam is a subject few politicians in France feel comfortable discussing in depth. This head-in-the-sand approach prompted 100 French intellectuals to write a letter to Le Figaro this week, which the paper printed on Tuesday. Signed by a broad cross-section of writers, historians and philosophers – including Alain Finkielkraut and Luc Ferry – the letter expressed its concern at the “new Islamist totalitarianism which looks to gain ground by any means and by portraying itself as a victim of intolerance”.
The signatories warned that the goal of the Islamists was to create a form of “apartheid” within France, where Muslims live separately from the rest of the population. As part of this strategy the Islamists are using the country’s Laïcité [secularism] to portray Islam as a victim of state oppression, ignoring the fact that the authorities have recently demanded the removal of a cross from a statue in Brittany and banned Christmas nativity displays from some town halls.
Laïcité is applied to all religions in France but it’s only the Islamists who kick up a fuss. The 100 signatories believe it’s imperative that Emmanuel Macron resists all attempts by the Islamists to undermine Laïcité, because “to put it in peril exposes us to a return to the wars of religion”.
In response to the letter, a government spokesman, Benjamin Griveaux, cautioned against “stigmatising” Muslims in using the word ‘apartheid’, but Manuel Valls welcomed the honesty of the signatories. “It’s time to open the eyes and speak out,” tweeted the former Socialist Prime Minister. “It’s the best way to serve the Republic and help the Muslims of France in the fight against Islamism and political Islam.”