We should no longer meet, we will have to come together. France has passed this week from one shock to another, the horror of terrorism adding to the nagging health crisis after the assassination of Samuel Paty, professor at Conflans-Sainte-Honorine (Yvelines), killed on Friday for teaching freedom of expression by showing his students caricatures of Muhammad from Charlie Hebdo. If it subjects the population to two simultaneous anxieties, this change imposes on the government two partly contradictory devices: on the one hand, the limitation of the circulation of each in the name of the epidemic risk for all; on the other, the call for national cohesion to defend our freedoms and our way of life.
A defense council at the Elysée
The inextricable equation can therefore be summed up as follows: how to stick together while respecting barrier gestures? The influx of tribute demonstrations to the teacher martyr, Sunday across the country, will measure whether the surge against Islamist terrorism outweighs caution in the face of the disease. Highly symbolic coincidence, these processions will be deployed in cities, many of which have been subject to a curfew since last night (and for at least four weeks), and for months to restrictive measures intended to stem the spread of the Covid. -19.
“We are at war”, announced Emmanuel Macron in March to sound the alarm clock in the face of the pandemic. On Saturday, the number of contaminations broke a new record with 32,427 cases. “They will not pass, they will not divide us,” he said Friday evening, pointing to the fanatics who threaten us. His opponents quickly denied it. It did not take more than a few hours for attacks from the right and the far right on the theme of laxity in the face of Muslim fundamentalism. A defense council is however convened this Sunday morning at the Elysee Palace to trigger the response. Several measures are being studied to strengthen the monitoring of “weak signals” of radicalization, in particular in mosques, associations, and particularly on social networks.
The Prime Minister on two fronts
Police operations could be triggered in the coming days, a senior source told JDD on Saturday evening. “We will not give up anything”, affirms Jean Castex in the interview he gave us. For the Prime Minister, who is struggling to make his mark in public opinion (it loses another 6 points and generates 52% negative opinions in the monthly Ifop-JDD barometer), there is an urgent need to display control of the danger on both fronts.
He was the man of optimistic deconfinement, here he is condemned to tighten the screws while waiting for better days. For Emmanuel Macron, the ordeal turns into a challenge. Criticized for his wait-and-see attitude towards the rise of Islamism, he hoped to have made a point with his speech at Les Mureaux on October 2 by designating “Islamist separatism” like the enemy. The crime of Conflans shakes him up again and puts him back on the front line. Pounded in recent weeks by the Arab channel Al Jazeera, lambasted by Turkish President Erdogan, the head of state was mentioned by name by the assassin in his tweet of demands. Even more than the interpellations of the political world, these provocations oblige him to react. It is up to him to initiate the reconquest.