When Charlie Hebdo was struck in 2015, France was defiant. When blood soaked the floors of the Bataclan later that year, France despaired. Now, after seeing a schoolteacher assassinated for simply doing his job, for doing what the Republic asked of him, France is furious.
For France, the time of hashtag solidarity and “Don’t Look Back in Anger” has passed. After years of terrible bloodshed on its streets, the usual lines and excuses are well worn out among French audiences. Now, France is clearly staking out its position: that the jihadist terror they’ve endured — more than any country in Europe — is a product of the growth of Islamist ideology inside its own borders, and the cultural chasm it creates.
In a speech to honour the slain schoolteacher, the French President himself could barely hold back his emotions, while in private he is said to be ready for a “fight to the death” with Islamists. His interior minister has denounced “Islamist barbarism” and said it’s time for Islamists to feel the fear and shock of France’s actions, not the other way around. The public, too, wants real action.
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