How International Media Analysed the Terror Attacks in France

Some reports criticised French President Emmanuel Macron for politicising the attack. 

Published
World
3 min read
A woman was reportedly beheaded by an attacker with a knife, who also killed two other people at a church in Nice.
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Three people were killed in a knife attack on Thursday, 29 October, at a church in Nice, which French President Emmanuel Macron called an "Islamist terrorist attack". The attack came less than a month after Samuel Paty, a teacher in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, was beheaded days after showing controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad to his students.

So, how did major news outlets across the world, analysed this attack?

Attacks in France Put Islamist Extremism Back in Spotlight

Not enough attention has been paid to Islamic extremism recently, writes Jason Burke for The Guardian. He says that this change in thought is understandable since deaths in Europe from all forms of terrorism fell by 70 percent in 2019, and western Europe recorded its lowest number of incidents since 2012. But with these two attacks, Islamic Extremism is back in the spotlight.

“One major issue, as everywhere, remains the pernicious role of social media. This has been clearly shown in investigations into the murder of the teacher in Conflans. The teenage killer came from 60 miles away, and his knowledge of the teacher’s actions was based on misleading clips circulated by angry parents and a mosque.”
Jason Burke in The Guardian

New Terror Attacks Leave France Embattled at Home and Abroad

The New York Times article said that the latest terror attack in Nice has “left France increasingly embattled at home and abroad”. The article by Norimitsu Onishi and Constant Méheut also pointed at the political implications of this attack. The reaction of the government had led to the criticism that President Macron is using the attack for "politicizing the attack and playing to voters who might otherwise defect to his challengers on the far right.”

But the anger and frustration across the country have been evident, according to the article.

“None of that (international criticism) has shaken the resolve of the French government, or indeed much of its public, that the crackdown is justified in a country that has been the target of dozens of attacks, large and small, by Islamist extremists since 2015 that have left more than 200 dead. The most recent killings in particular — first outside a public school and then at a church — have struck at two central pillars of French identity.”
Norimitsu Onishi and Constant Méheut in the NYT

Islamophobia: Macron’s Desperate Bid for Re-election

The attack comes as France is suffering from a long-term social crisis that has been made worse by the failed policies of Macron’s government, writes Ali Saad in the column for Al Jazeera. He added that Macron’s ratings from approximately 60 percent when he was elected in May 2017 to 23 percent in December 2018. Before the pandemic mobilised French society earlier this year, the French president had the approval of about 33 percent of the people.

“In early October, Macron made a special address to the nation in which he insisted that Islam “is in crisis” and that he was going to “liberate” it from foreign influences. When the murder of Paty took place less than two weeks later, the French president was quick to seize the moment and declare he was going to take action to eradicate “Islamist extremism” in France.”
Ali Saad in the Al Jazeera

Disoriented and Frightened: BBC’s Paris Correspondent’s Analysis

The terrorist threat level in France is as high now as it was in 2015-16 – the terrible days of Charlie Hebdo, Bataclan, the Nice lorry-killer and the murder of Father Hamel in his church in Rouen – writes BBC’s Paris Correspondent Hugh Schofield. According to him, the symbolism of the Samuel Paty beheading has left the country disoriented and frightened.

“That a simple history teacher could be murdered - and not randomly but actually selected for murder - has been deeply unsettling for French people. Likewise the targeting today of Christian worshippers in Nice.”
BBC’s Paris Correspondent Hugh Schofield
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