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Will France be the victim of a new jihad?

France is especially under threat. Credit: Getty

March 29, 2024 - 4:00pm

France’s schools are once again under shock. The principal of Maurice Ravel high school in eastern Paris resigned from his position following online threats subsequent to a confrontation with a student who refused to remove her hijabs while on school grounds, as required by the law.

The French have read this script before. In 2020, a young Chechen individual tragically took the life of the teacher Samuel Paty after the former had shared a cartoon of Muhammad during a discussion on freedom of speech. Previously, one of his students provided a highly provocative version of events to her parents, who then informed their neighbours, fellow believers, and local provocateurs. They labelled Paty an “Islamophobe,” putting a target on his back. The young Chechen came across the controversy and decided to take the matter into his own hands.

Paty, Bernard and so many others fell victim to what political scientist Gilles Kepel termed “atmospheric jihadism.” Kepel, an established authority on the Middle East and radical Islam, contends that grievance entrepreneurs seek to foster an “us versus them” narrative within Muslim communities, alienating them from the broader French society and, at the margins, giving a licence for individuals to punish their enemies. In essence, “atmospheric jihadism” encompasses the ideological and social factors that contribute to radicalisation within certain communities, emphasising the role of local dynamics and narratives in the rise of Islamist ideology.

What happened in Maurice Ravel is another textbook case. The Collective Against Islamophobia in Europe — the disbanded ex-Collective Against Islamophobia in France now resettled in Belgium — published a clip of the young girl claiming she had been manhandled. It quickly went viral and the death threats followed suit.

This atmospheric jihadism is not unique to France. If it had not been made very clear by the surge in antisemitic abuse in the UK in 2023 (+589%), the Khan Review published this week clearly indicated that the UK had its own network of toxic grievance entrepreneurs and Islamists provocateurs. We know MPs are under significant pressure from Islamist activists and jihadists. In Batley when a RE teacher was forced into hiding for showing a cartoon of Muhammad, the UK was soberingly close to having its own Samuel Paty. He is still in hiding three years later.

But France is especially under threat. Only last October, Dominique Bernard, another teacher, was killed by an Islamist terrorist. And over the last 10 days, 150 schools have reported receiving threats through their email systems over the past week, including the following message received by 74 students: “Tomorrow, I will explode the entire establishment and decapitate all your bodies of kouffars to serve Allah the Almighty.”

With the Olympics looming, France is also dealing with the possibility of larger terrorist strikes, as made obvious by the government raising the terror alert warning to its highest level and deploying across the country another 4000 military to the already 3000 tasked with anti-terrorist patrol duties.

In the last two years, while no major sophisticated attacks have been successful, a significant amount have been in the works, including a particularly gruesome plan by a cell to capture and execute an entire village in Brittany.

Leading jihadism expert Hugo Micheron long warned against the complacency of thinking ISIS’ territorial defeat meant the end of trouble. Islamist terrorism in Europe has ebbed and flowed over the decades, with three phases since the 1980s. Each had their goals and methodology, but at every ebb, the next generation regroups and builds a template for the future, and the next flow pushes the tide a little higher. Since the territorial collapse of ISIS we have enjoyed a low tide, but the last few weeks could be the premise of a new high tide.

This jihadist world and its sympathisers have been turbocharged by the emotional power of recent international developments, starting of course with the war in Gaza, the viral plight of the Palestinians and its aftershocks in the region, including the Red Sea frenzy of the Houthis. Intelligence services across Europe are all on high alert; in Britain they believe the war in Gaza is likely to become the biggest recruiter for militants since the Iraq war in 2003.

This is not to say that the Olympics are doomed. France’s intelligence services have done a remarkable job over the last decade dealing with jihadists and will be on high alert. But France, and the rest of Europe, might start to feel the pinch of the pincer movement between low-level atmospheric jihadism and the return of more lethal sophisticated strikes.


François Valentin is a political analyst and co-host of the Uncommon Decency podcast.

Valen10Francois

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Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
3 months ago

Anyone going to be in Paris this summer for the Olympics?

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
3 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

…nope!

R Wright
R Wright
3 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Paris in summer? No thanks.

Katja Sipple
Katja Sipple
3 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

No. Sadly, the days when Paris had any appeal for me are long gone. It was a beautiful city, but after experiencing two attempted and one successful robbery/theft by Algerian or Tunisian criminals, I have had more than enough.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
3 months ago

At least the French have tried to draw some lines which they claim cannot be crossed as regards Islam, whereas our hopeless idiots just try to avoid the problem and keep opening the door to more and more outrageous behaviour from the Islamists.

stan d
stan d
3 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

We even put the hadith on King’s Cross’ departure board. Aren’t we doomed already?

Victor James
Victor James
3 months ago

The logical consequence of Islamic supremacy in Europe is either the total Islamification of Europe or a slow morphing of the ‘anti Islamic terror’ apparatus into separate states. It’s one or the other.
Once Sharia political parties start to emerge in Europe, even the drips who say things like ‘but why does mass immigration from the third world matter…’ will have no choice but to vote for the ‘far right’.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
3 months ago
Reply to  Victor James

People thought Michel Houllebeque ‘s novel ‘Soumission’ was a joke in bad taste but it’s all too easy to imagine.

Arthur King
Arthur King
3 months ago
Reply to  Victor James

Would you rather live in an Islamist state or a far right state?

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
3 months ago
Reply to  Arthur King

Far-right obviously. The Muslim state is that of the Ottoman Empire – a statis and ossification and loss of most rights that Western persons are used to.

Mirax Path
Mirax Path
3 months ago
Reply to  Arthur King

As a female and atheist, I would choose the far right any day.

Victor James
Victor James
3 months ago
Reply to  Arthur King

You’ll have to decide soon enough.

Ian Dale
Ian Dale
3 months ago
Reply to  Arthur King

This is a false dichotomy. They are the same thing.

Saul D
Saul D
3 months ago
Reply to  Arthur King

An Islamic state is a far right state. One group is supreme (believers) and all others are second-class, with no tolerance for other points of view, and strictly enforced conformance to state/religious imposed norms via the law and policing.
I prefer to live somewhere with equality, freedom of speech, tolerance, democratic sovereignty, personal freedom and individual rights. Pretty standard stuff in 2005, but norms that have been eroded across the board in the last couple of decades.

Katalin Kish
Katalin Kish
3 months ago
Reply to  Saul D

I was thinking along the same lines, when I chose to bring my babies to Australia 35+ years ago from the communist chaos of central Europe.
20+ years later I had to find out that Australia never had functional law-enforcement, might=right, justice has always been reserved for the privileged.
Australia’s bikers like the MEEHAN & MARCUCCI flash their Victoria Police uniforms, ride circles around our homes in lynch mobs, break into our homes/vehicles, flaunt their risk-free access to technology violating the Geneva Convention – in our own homes, in million dollar $ home suburbs, in Clare O’Neil’s electorate, since at least 2019 – trying to coerce people into aiding crime.
My last forced war-crime experience in my own home less than 12 hours ago: at 4:11am. Today is Easter Sunday. None of the crimes against me show up in any statistics. They will never be punished. I am a public servant witness of crimes punishable by 10 years in jail/worse since 2009.
At least people don’t go through refugee camps to live in Islamic / communist dictatorships.
Think twice before you move anywhere.

Victor James
Victor James
3 months ago
Reply to  Katalin Kish

Extremely interesting comment. Have you written about this at more length anywhere? If not, could you point me to any literature on the issue? Thanks

Katalin Kish
Katalin Kish
3 months ago
Reply to  Victor James

See my ‘perfect crimes’ article on LinkedIn. I add comments of daily crime doses when I can, because crimes against me were delivered with production-line consistency already in 2009.
What I am subjected to explains, why crime witnesses refuse to testify at court, why biker crime is so risk-free and so lucrative in Australia.
My last forced war-crime experience before midnight yesterday, less than 9 hours ago.

Katalin Kish
Katalin Kish
3 months ago
Reply to  Victor James

This comment originally with hyperlinks about literature disappeared. Maybe it stays without hyperlinks. Please note: the truth is a valid defence against defamation in Australia.
Literature:
1)
Raymond T. Hoser published two books at an enormous personal sacrifice in 1999 about Victoria Police’s crimes & corruption.
Hoser won multiple defamation cases at court. Details of his books below*. The appearance, typos/spelling errors in Hoser’s works, like in mine, show the effects of intimidation attempts dished out to crime witnesses, whose conscience cannot bear the burden of complicity with crimes with our silence.
Hoser wasn’t just harassed, his home raided repeatedly, his notes/tapes/manuscripts destroyed, he was beaten, even imprisoned.
I was forced to fight corrupt Victoria Police in 2019-2020 also, as an accused criminal at court, in an admitted silencing attempt.
I won. Prosecutors bluff. I was lucky. No fabricated evidence of sufficient quality this time.
I am using the voice Victoria Police gave me by making me an accused criminal. I had no voice as a public servant witness to/victim of crimes punishable by 10 years in jail/worse.
My last forced war-crime experience was less than 10 hours ago in my own home, in a leafy Melbourne suburb of million $ homes, behind locked doors, on my own. Writing this on 4 April, 2024, at 9:24am, last obvious/typical cyber-crime minutes ago.
2)
Look up Jeremy King’s work from Robinson Gill Lawyers, also the Police Accountability Project, etc.
Jeremy King, the Police Accountability Project etc. focus on the consequences of Victoria Police’s corruption for non-Caucasians. They could not help with crimes via cyber-space against a highly educated Caucasian woman still financially independent, in spite of almost 15 years of unpunished, devastating crimes – irrespective of what these crimes signify. Lawyers need to make a living, and very few cyber-crimes can be proven to be crimes (exceptions include ransomware, child-abuse, etc.) in the first place, let alone proving anyone’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt, so only approach them if you have irrefutable physical evidence of physical crimes committed against you.

*
Raymond T. Hoser’s books on Victoria Police’s corruption:
Victoria Police Corruption. (736 pp.) Kotabi, 1999. ISBN 0-9586769-6-8 – I scanned this whole book into pdf, when I realised how closely the crimes I am being subjected to match long-established Victoria Police crime strategies & tactics. I am sharing the scanned file with the author’s permission. You will find a link to the scanned copy via my ‘perfect crimes’ article on LinkedIn. I am using my full name & the same profile photo across all social media platforms.
Victoria Police Corruption 2. (800 pp.) Kotabi, 2000. ISBN 0-9586769-7-6
Since the unfortunate birth of IBAC in 2011, criminal Victoria Police officers & their counterparts have an impenetrable cloak of secrecy, so people like Hoser won’t be able to find & present evidence like he presented in his books in 1999. IBAC is a typical example of Australia’s token transparency/accountability organisations with lofty titles costing billions a year, without delivering value to taxpayers, cementing the status quo of crimes & corruption daily.
IBAC is so severely under-resourced, so powerless, they have to pass back over 90% of all Victoria Police corruption investigations to Victoria Police with predictable outcomes. Section 194 of the IBAC Act enables Victoria Police to bypass their Freedom of Information obligations by treating all information as protected disclosures.
There are good reasons for the MEEHAN, MARCUCCI, etc. Australian Defence Force / Victoria Police / Australian Signals Directorate bikers’ expectation of being entitled to ongoing, risk-free, lucrative criminality. The stalker who has been freely committing crimes against me since 2009 is a MEEHAN. In Australia coworker stalking is an epidemic. Look up the story of Celeste Manno.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
3 months ago
Reply to  Katalin Kish

my son lives in Oz – and has never come across anything like this – are you sure you actually live in Aust ?? – seems ‘odd’.

Katalin Kish
Katalin Kish
3 months ago
Reply to  chris sullivan

Thank you for your comment.
Controversy attracts attention, so negative comments help me convert my experience as a helpless victim of unpunished war-crimes (last incident less than 9 hours ago) into an observer of an important threat to everyone, because the Internet is everywhere.
I had lived within a 10km radius in Melbourne 1988-2008 before a stalker coworker’s (at the time) onslaught of crimes started against me in 2009 & knew nothing of Australia’s absurd crime reality. I never even dated the stalker, any MEEHANs, MARCUCCIs, police officers, bikers or any other criminals.
I would have reacted the same way you have, prior to 2009.
I still escape into denial whenever I can. I only have one life too.

Katalin Kish
Katalin Kish
3 months ago
Reply to  Katalin Kish

* I had lived within a 10km radius in Melbourne 1988-2008 from where the stalker’s onslaught crimes started against me in 2009 & knew nothing of crimes.
The cumulative trauma of unpunished crimes with the open participation of corrupt Victoria Police officers affects my writing.

Alan Gore
Alan Gore
3 months ago
Reply to  Katalin Kish

When this sort of thing happens here in the US, at least our Constitution gives us the right to shoot back. Let me guess: those biker gangs you describe have blossomed since Australians were forced to turn in their guns?

Katalin Kish
Katalin Kish
3 months ago
Reply to  Alan Gore

Indeed.
In Australia law-abiding citizens are not even allowed to carry pepper-spray for self-defence. Bikers, especially government/military insider bikers are above the law & draw satisfaction from flaunting their status as above the law.

Gillian Johnstone
Gillian Johnstone
3 months ago
Reply to  Saul D

That sounds like a far-Left state to me.

Iain Fitzsimons
Iain Fitzsimons
3 months ago
Reply to  Arthur King

Aren’t they two cheeks of the same arse? Renowned ‘libertarians’ like Douglas Murray and Matt Goodwin have been vocal recently advocating for strict and enforceable measures to end the islamism of the UK. I suggest most of the population would agree in spirit and practice with them, and I also suggest that is not ‘far right’ at all. Wanting ‘our country back’ to me isn’t a call to return to 1930’s whiteness, rather a desperate cry to go back to pre Rushdie book burning of the late 80’s when we seemed to be embracing ethnic diversity in a grown up and mature way. Whether it’s too late is a different matter

Gregory Toews
Gregory Toews
3 months ago
Reply to  Victor James

Another real option is to vote to capitulate, even if it’s in small, seemingly harmless increments. Our self-deprecation has been growing for decades, and behind that is a century long, and growing, disillusionment and pessimism about our modernist project, and post-enlightenment rationalism. “Heh, ho, western civ has got to go.” Heh West, be careful what you wish for.

D Glover
D Glover
3 months ago

I’d like to ask the two downvoters a question.
Did you think El Uro was being serious or sarcastic?
How do I interpret your downvote if you don’t make that clear?

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
3 months ago
Reply to  D Glover

I wasn’t sure. That’s why I didn’t vote.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 months ago
Reply to  D Glover

There needs to be a hint of ironic intent – however subtle 


UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
3 months ago
Reply to  D Glover

I’m hoping sarcastic but as it has become fashionable to openly express Jew hate, it’s hard to tell anymore.

El Uro
El Uro
3 months ago
Reply to  D Glover

Look at it again. It more or less regular case when all “up votes”/”down votes” are cleared on this site

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
3 months ago

Why say “tragically took the life of” when murdered is a more accurate description.

Mirax Path
Mirax Path
3 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Euphemisms help to habituate you to the horror of what is going on.

El Uro
El Uro
3 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Islamophobia is not permitted

Katja Sipple
Katja Sipple
3 months ago
Reply to  El Uro

The mass media certainly try to suppress the truth from getting out, although they are not that effective anymore. I vividly recall the 2015/2015 New Year’s sexual assaults and attacks on women by migrants all over Germany, and how police and press claimed nothing had happened.
The term Islamophobia is a misnomer, and an attempt to silence critics. A phobia is an unfounded fear; a look at 1,400 years of Islamic history proves that we have much to fear.

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
3 months ago

Allow millions of Muslim illegals into Europe, and you will get terrorism. Because the Muslim worldview (moral culture) and the European moral culture are completely at odds. The European moral culture is that of “modern liberal democracy” from the Enlightenment – equality of men, advancement thru education, and the use of science to improve the world. The Muslim worldview is Sharia – subjugation of women, advancement thru religious zeal, and the use of Sharia to control the masses. The collision will result in either the complete Islamification of Europe, or the elimination of the Muslim invasion. I’m in favor of the second, but it will be a bloodbath.

Katja Sipple
Katja Sipple
3 months ago
Reply to  Paul Thompson

I also favour the second approach, but it will be bloody and violent either way.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
3 months ago

Islam really is amazing in how well it combined disrespect for other faiths and beliefs with utter intolerance for “disrespect” or even faint criticism directed towards itself.

Matt Sylvestre
Matt Sylvestre
3 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Leftists followed this model.