France rocked by Strasbourg attack

After the fatal attack on a Christmas market in Strasbourg in which two people were killed and several more wounded, investigators continue to search for the chief suspect, a 29-year-old who had previously been identified as a threat to public safety. The investigators suspect it was a terrorist attack driven by Islamist motives. What repercussions will it have for the already divided country?

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Libération (FR) /

Excessive demands from the opposition

Right-wing opposition politicians have attacked the government in Paris for its security policy and demanded tougher laws. They are going too far, Libération writes:

“Is this dignified? Is it reasonable? The state of emergency has already been adopted to a large extent in our ordinary laws. Quite apart from the fact that it is prohibited by law and the Constitution, the preventive detention of those tagged with an 'S card' would require a major institutional reform. It would mean - this must be stressed - keeping some 10,000 people in custody for an undetermined but necessarily long period of time without any precise legal grounds, on the basis of a file that is nothing more than a surveillance tool and not a list of criminals. This recurring proposal has been rejected over and over again, including by the likes of Frédéric Péchenard, the former head of the National Police.”

Dnevnik (SI) /

Macron reacting like a Middle East despot

This new deadly attack in Strasbourg strengthens the position of the president in these turbulent times, writes Dnevnik:

“A terrorist attack is carried out amid the social protests. The logical consequence is emergency measures that also put an end to political gatherings. Macron's reaction to the terrorist attacks is taken from the textbooks of Middle East political culture: first the police are given additional powers and soldiers are deployed in the city. Then the citizens' freedoms are restricted in a more or less discreet manner. If people get used to armed soldiers in the cities, other measures will also seem acceptable. The most radical Arab political groups have managed with just a few moves to change Europe's political culture. Respect! The Russians weren't able to pull this off in the 50 years of the Cold War.”

Iltalehti (FI) /

A perfidious enemy of democracy

Terrorism attacks society as a whole, comments Iltalehti:

“In recent years public spaces in Europe have become a stage for violence and the threat of terrorism is casting its shadow on everyday life. That this fear has become part of our daily lives doesn't however mean that each new attack doesn't deeply wound the citizens' sense of security. ... This terrorist attack had the goal of further escalating the politically unstable situation in France, which resembled street warfare on Saturday in Paris. ... Terrorism is a perfidious enemy of democracy because it acts as a megaphone for vulnerability and doubters. President Trump has already used the attack in Strasbourg to justify his plans for the wall on the Mexican border.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

New recruits waiting in the prisons

The jihadists are targeting prison inmates as recruits, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung warns:

“True, the so-called IS caliphate in Syria and Iraq has been destroyed and the number of Islamist attacks in Europe has gone down. But the Islamist ideologues continue to find new recruits in Europe - above all in its jails. A report by the Belgian State Security Service warns of a new generation of 'gangster-jihadists'. Never before have Belgian prisons been confronted with such a large group of potential terrorists, the report finds, adding that the danger that these inmates could radicalise other prisoners is greater than ever. Above all, it stresses, the IS returnees could trigger a new wave of extremism in the country when they're released in three to five years' time.”