The geography of the six Paris locations targeted by terrorists Friday night points to precise advance planning in support of a primary target, namely, French President Francois Hollande, while at the same time sowing bloody havoc in the French capital, frightening tourists away and shaking the French governing system to the core. The cost in lives has not been finally tallied. Estimates range from 127 to 153 with dozens of people injured.
debkafile’s counterterrorism sources note that the parties who orchestrated the deadliest terrorism attack on any European capital took into account that President Hollande would be attending a friendly French-German football match at the Stade de France, presenting them with a high-quality target for assassination or capture as their hostage. Saturday, the president was the first French official to explicitly accuse ISIS of “an act of war” against France.
One of the terrorists shouted before he died, “Francois Hollande’s foreign policy is to blame!” Another was reported by a witness as shouting “This is for Syria!” while spraying gunfire in one of the targeted restaurants: The other attacks on at least six locations were a kind of vicious subplot with the dual purpose of bloody terror per se as well as a diversionary tactic to confuse French security forces and keep them running around in several directions. The president’s bodyguards were meant to be distracted by two earsplitting explosions staged by two suicide bombers outside the stadium. Continue reading
The Muslim population of France reached an estimated 6.5 million in 2014. Although French law prohibits the collection of official statistics about the race or religion of its citizens, this estimate is based on several recent studies that attempt to calculate the number of people in France whose origins are from Muslim majority countries.
This implies that the Muslim population of France is now roughly 10% of the country’s total population of 66 million. In real terms, France has the largest Muslim population in the European Union.
Consequently, Islam was an ever-present topic in newspaper headlines during 2014. What follows is a chronological review of some of the main stories about the rise of Islam in France during 2014:
On January 1, Interior Minister Manuel Valls announced the most anticipated statistic of the year: a total of 1,067 cars and trucks were torched across France on New Year’s Eve, a “significant reduction” from the 1,193 vehicles that were burned during the annual ritual on the same holiday in 2013.
Car burnings, commonplace across France, are often attributed to rival Muslim gangs that compete with each other for the media spotlight over who can cause the most destruction. An estimated 40,000 cars are burned in France every year. Continue reading