France should be alert to signs of radical Islam that deviate from “the laws and values of the Republic”, President Macron has said, in a speech to honour the victims of last week’s police attack.
Mr Macron was speaking during a memorial ceremony yesterday (Tuesday October 8), held in the courtyard of the police prefecture in Paris.
This was the same location in which a radicalised long-time police worker, Mickaël Harpon, was shot dead after fatally stabbing four of his colleagues on Thursday October 3.
The ceremony also awarded posthumous Légion d’Honneur merits – France’s highest accolade – to the four victims, whose coffins were draped with the French tricolore flag.
After several minutes of silence for the victims, Mr Macron addressed the courtyard.
Pour nos morts, pour nos enfants, nous mènerons toujours le combat contre le terrorisme islamiste. Et à la fin, nous l’emporterons. pic.twitter.com/PD9jNqVgLm
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) October 8, 2019
He said: “Your colleagues fell under blows from a rogue and deadly [strain of] Islam that it is up to us to eradicate. The government alone and all the services of the State will not be able to slay the Islamist hydra alone…we must build a society of vigilance…against this deadly ideology, which does not recognise our laws, our rights, our way of life.
“[We must] know how to notice – in school, at work, in places of worship, near you – any changes, deviations – these little gestures that suggest someone is moving further away from the laws and values of the Republic.”
Mr Macron added: “This is in no way an attack against a religion, but against its misappropriation and that which leads to terrorism.”
Ils avaient choisi de porter l’uniforme, de consacrer leur vie à protéger celle des autres. Jeudi 3 octobre, quatre policiers sont tombés, en service, comme avant eux ceux qui, depuis 2015, ont été victimes du terrorisme islamiste. pic.twitter.com/0OPigY2OgU
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) October 8, 2019
The President said this was instead a fight against the “breeding ground” that nourishes “Islamic terrorism and its deadly work”.
Mr Macron also paid direct tribute to the victims, saying they “chose to wear the uniform, to dedicate their lives to protecting those of others.”
Radicalisation “breeding ground”
The warnings on “noticing” signs of radicalisation come after killer Mr Harpon was reported to have become more fundamental in his religion in recent years and months.
Having converted to Islam around a dozen years ago, he is then said to have more recently changed his dress from Western clothes to more Islamic, “mosque” attire; become reluctant to interact with women; and was said to have “justified” the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks as “a job well done”.
This is not the first time that Mr Macron has used the word “breeding ground (terreau, to mean “soil” or “compost” in French)” to describe the radicalisation of Muslims in France.
In 2015, after the attacks on the Bataclan club, cafes, and the Stade de France stadium, Mr Macron caused controversy for saying that France should “take on some of the responsibility” for the radicalisation of the terrorists.
He said: “The breeding ground on which the terrorists were able to feed the violence, and brainwash some individuals, is defiance. These elements are not the first cause of jihadism – that comes from madness, [and a] totalitarian and manipulative spirit. But there is a breeding ground [in France], and that is our responsibility.”
In his speech, Mr Macron concluded: “Let us come together in unity as a nation, bringing together all of the French people, whatever their conviction. Let us oppose hatred and Republican intransigence; terror. Let us bring the unbreakable French spirit of resistance. To obscurantism, let us bring our love of reason, and its demands.”
“Against Islamic terrorism, we are fighting. We will fight. We always will. And at the end, we will win. Because we have this strength in our hearts. We do it for our dead, for our children; in the name of the nation.”
The speech came as the government faces criticism – following the police attack – for the failure of the terrorist police to notice and tackle a radicalised extremist in their midst, and what appears to be a growing number of terror-related incidents in France since 2015.
Yet, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said that for every attack, many more had been thwarted by intelligence services.
He said: “Fifty-nine attacks have been foiled due to the work [of intelligence services] in the past six years. There are failures, yes. In a war such as the one we are fighting, there are some, and they are always dramatic.”
On Sunday this week (October 6), Mr Philippe also announced plans to evaluate the police department’s own internal system for detecting signs of radicalisation.
He said: “For all intelligence services, the detection of internal threats is an absolute priority. In particular, any sign of radicalisation should not be overlooked, nor remain without a response.
“People will tell me that ‘zero risk’ does not exist, and that is true. But it is our responsibility to not accept this as default, and to always close the holes in the net.”