With the assistance of Camille Grand of the French think tank FRS, Justin went to enormous lengths this morning (7:20) to distance the recent ‘unconnected incidents’ in France from the religion of peace.
|"Three very different events"|
|"very unpleasant for French Muslims"|
Don’t mention: 1) Muslims; 2) Allahu Akbar; 3) Isis flag; 3) ‘Car Jihad’ (i.e.driving cars into people)
Do mention: 1) Deranged lone wolf; 2) Marine Le Pen.
JW: What’s happening in France this Christmas? There are 300m soldiers on the streets along with the usual police of the security forces. It follows 3 very strange and unconnected attacks in which individuals have driven vehicles into crowds apparently trying to ... kill people. And Camille Grand is head of the French Defence and Security think tank FRS and is on the line from Paris. Good morning to you.
CG: Good morning how are you?
JW: Well thanks. there is no suggestion, is there, that there is anything organised going on, but nevertheless there is enough going on for people to be worried.
CG: Those are three very different events it seems. I mean the little we know about the 2 first attacks - one has a clear radical Islamic connection ...er.... there is a man who attacked a policeman and got shot while trying to attack him with a knife, then we had a car attack in Dijon and this man seems to be simply insane and he doesn’t seem to be a terrorist event and we had a further car attack in Nantes. So in three very different locations, and it’s unclear that the later two had any terrorist background whatsoever, but of course there is a fear that the combination of insane people and would-be Jihadists starts creating those lone-wolf events across the country.
JW: Is it enough of a fear to have an impact on the way French people are behaving this Christmas and in the run-up to Christmas?
CG: Not so much to this point. the government have taken some measures, putting 300 soldiers on the street, and adding - calling for caution and things like that, but in practice these events seem very difficult to prevent anyhow and the French have experienced, as the Brits, waves of various forms of terrorism in the past so... people are shopping for christmas and wandering around.
JW: Very unpleasant for French Muslims too. There are many who are also trying to go about their business and, and have this sort of... backdrop, now, context to life, that they could do without.
CG: This is why both the president and the Prime Minister have been very cautious in calling these attacks terrorist attacks, first of all because it’s absolutely unclear whether more than one of them has any connection whatsoever with terrorism, and the second thing is that there is a fear that we create this sort of ambivalent feeling towards the Muslim population, which is absolutely peaceful, or 99.9% of them, so this is the situation we face and the government has been very careful in not making that connection, even though some politicians including Madame Le Pen from the National Front have been doing so.
JW: Oh really, have they? So is there a risk that this becomes part of a political discussion
although as you say it would appear that at least in a couple of these cases the people were simply deranged.
CG: Most mainstream parties have been very careful in not making such a connection, but Mrs Le Pen did so immediately. This is one problem with French politics at the moment, that she was very vocal about this immediately and made the connection which proved to be incorrect.