Not even 12 hours after the attack of a lone terrorist on the Champs-Elysées in the heart of Paris, immediately claimed by ISIS, Marine Le Pen flew with unusual ferocity, like a vulture, onto the coffin of the poor policeman who was killed in the incident. The candidate of the historical right, the conservative Francois Fillon, did the same, as though contending prey up for grabs: the fear of a population about to elect the head of the next government.
But Marine Le Pen was particularly “programmatic.” She was already speaking as if she were France’s president-elect.
She alternated repressive and ideological demands, such as to define the French institutional transformation. State of war; expulsion of those indicted under the symbol “S”; closed borders; and giving up on “naiveté, innocence, and laxity”; closing the “Islamic mosques,” which would not be financed by “public or foreign sources”; and no right to citizenship for Muslims.
She was expertly and irresponsibly mixing terrorism and migrants. As if they were the same thing. For a “war we cannot lose,” concluded Marine Le Pen, wallowing naturally into the macroscopic holes of the French secret services, after Charlie Hebdo, Bataclan and Nice. According to the declaration of the Interior Ministry, the secret services were forced to admit they knew about the bomber; they had him under investigation.
The day before the attacks, Le Pen had promised that if she becomes president, she will eradicate Islamic fundamentalism from the suburbs. It is thus immediately evident what has long been felt, and that only until a few days ago, was difficult to describe: ISIS votes sharply to the right, preferably for the National Front, which aligns its xenophobic, racist and ultra-nationalist dynamics with fear and the climate of war, even in their own community.
U.S. President Donald Trump was not to be outdone. Immediately after the attack, he said that “the people of France will not take much more of this. Will have a big effect on presidential election.” He would know.
Actually, the first public surveys, conducted a few hours after the presidential first round polls, tell a different story. The modern centrist Emmanuel Macron stands out, outdistancing all the other most likely candidates. Ahead of Le Pen herself are the right-leaning liberal-conservative Fillon and the surprising Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who has so far collected the difficult consensus on the left better than the Socialist candidate Benoît Hamon, who also brought important news.
But if this trend of the French result suggests Macron as winner, how much fuel will this victory — forward looking for all sides of the center of Europe — feed a new populism, this time even more radical?
One thing is certain. The “occasional” precision of jihadi terrorism has become endemic. It devastates civil society, contrasting it to itself. And then it happens now and it strikes in crucial political moments. How can we forget that between now and the summer there will be at least two relevant electoral events in Germany and again in Britain, just after the national-populist Brexit?
In the background of the endemic jihadist attacks here in Western Europe and beyond, there is the scene of the real war, only seemingly distant. Where terrorist jihadism (al-Qaeda and ISIS, from time to time useful to our own geostrategic military operations) is sowing carnage among Muslims, within ex-de facto states like Iraq, Syria and Libya that our wars have helped to destroy.
In a wasteland, littered with the despair of millions of human beings who are fleeing from war and going in the opposite direction, on a trail of blood of so many foreign fighters who have come out from Europe in freedom and now return. The Middle East no longer exists, the self-styled “Caliph” will lose Raqqa and Mosul, but he has already planted the nefarious seed of the “Islamic State” to fill the old desert of the states we have destroyed.
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