After a knifing at a church last week, the Associated Press published an “explainer” bearing the headline, “Why France Sparks Such Anger in Muslim World.” The article went on to cite the country’s “brutal colonial past, staunch secular policies, and tough-talking president who is seen as insensitive toward the Muslim faith” as reasons for jihadist violence. But France suffered from radical Islamic terror well before Emmanuel Macron’s presidency. Moreover, write Benjamin Haddad, Macron’s “tough talk” constitutes a mere acknowledgment of reality:
Since 2012, more than 260 people of all backgrounds have died in terrorist attacks: in a Jewish school, at the Charlie Hebdo headquarters, in a concert hall, in the streets of Nice, in churches, and in police street patrols.
[There have been] many reports over the years of growing pressure on teachers trying to teach about the Holocaust, sex education, or even basic biology. In 2002, a book written by a collective of high-school teachers, The Lost Territories of the Republic, warned of alarming sexism and anti-Semitism in the French banlieues, [slum-like suburbs that often have large immigrant populations]. Jews, who represent 1 percent of the French population but are disproportionally targeted by hate crimes (about 40 percent of attacks most years), have largely deserted these areas in the last decade.
[B]laming the French state for the attacks and the rise of radicalism shows a dangerous moral confusion. . . . Terrorist attacks have struck Germany, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and others. France is at the forefront of a deeper battle striking major European societies.