France under attack ahead of presidential election

21 April 2017

Tim Dieppe writes about the attack in Paris on Thursday 20 April.

Last night another shocking jihadist attack took place as a man opened fired on a police van on the Champs Elysees in Paris. He killed one officer and wounded two others before being shot dead by security forces. Islamic State quickly claimed responsibility for the attack and named the attacker as Abu Yousif al-Bajiki (the Belgian). His identity has yet to be officially confirmed by security services, but French media have identified him as Karin Cheurifi, 39, whose ‘war name’ was Abu Yousif al-Bajiki.

Known Islamist

The attacker is known to have been identified as an Islamist radical. Indeed, he had been detained only last month after informants said he was “seeking to obtain weapons to kill policemen.” He had previously been in prison for trying to kill two policemen. In spite of his nickname, Cheurfi was a French national. It has been reported that a handwritten note praising Islamic State was found near the attacker and a Qur’an was found in his vehicle.

Jihadist terrorism a key election concern

There have been as many as 238 people killed in jihadist attacks in France since 2015. Most notable were the attacks on Charlie Hebdo, the Paris attacks in November 2016, and the Nice attack last year. Islamic militancy is a key issue for the presidential election on Sunday. A poll last month found that 93% of French people believe that the terrorist threat remains high, and 59% said they did not feel safe anywhere in the country. 71% believed that security has deteriorated in France in the last five years. The poll also found that 88% support deportation of foreigners convicted of serious crimes. Another poll found that 61% of French people believe that the way Islam is practised today in France is incompatible with French society, compared with 17% who believe the same is true for Judaism, and 6% for Catholicism.

No-go zones

Last year, French police officers organised protests and demonstrations in some of France’s largest cities. They demonstrated in uniform, and in police cars with blue lights flashing and sirens blaring. Their grievance? Lack of support for tacking terrorism. No-go zones are a reality. A French magazine suggested in 2014 that there were more than 750 areas of ‘lawlessness’ or no-go zones. In some of these areas, sharia law takes precedence over French law, as radical Islam reigns.  Earlier this year, riots erupted after a man claimed he was raped with a baton by police in a Paris suburb. An investigation quickly established that he was not raped, but was injured as he resisted arrest. The riots lasted for two weeks and resulted in an estimated 200 arrests as police and protestors clashed across the country. Dozens of cars were torched, shops and restaurants looted. Official buildings were attacked.

Election Impact        

Is it any wonder that 51% of French police intend to vote for Marine Le Pen who has pledged to provide 15,000 more police officers, deport foreign criminals, and close extremist mosques? These policies are high on the priority list for many French people which explains level of support she has. This attack is only likely to increase her support and people’s prioritisation of these issues.

Ideological Battle

What is needed is for mainstream politicians to recognise that these problems need addressing. Not only in France, but throughout Europe, including Britain, we are facing an ideological battle. Outspoken former practicing Muslim, Ayyan Hirsi Ali wrote a report last month: The Challenge of Dawa: Political Islam as Ideology and Movement and How to Counter it. In it she argues, correctly, that we cannot just focus on the violence carried out by Islamists, we must also defeat the ideology. This first of all requires recognising that it is a political ideology with political ambitions. Then we need to clearly and unashamedly show how societies and cultures founded on Christianity are superior to those founded on Islam. I would go beyond Hirsi Ali and also show that Islam is false and that Christianity is true.

Pray for France

How many more deaths will it take for the French establishment to recognise that the country is under attack from within? How many riots? Political Islam is gaining influence and changing the culture. ‘No-go zones’ should not be tolerated. French society is reaching a crisis. Robust policies are required. Pray for France as they select presidential candidates this weekend and next month.

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