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Terrorism Fears Feed the Rise of France’s Extreme Right

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DNYUZ:

“Marine Le Pen does not have to say anything,” said Alain Frachon, a former editor of the French daily Le Monde. “Each time France is hit by terrorism, the extreme right benefits.”

Mr. Frachon was reflecting on the fatal stabbing Friday of a police officer by a Tunisian immigrant who had been in France for a decade without legal status before securing authorization to stay in 2019 and a temporary residence permit last year.

In the attack on Friday, a 49-year-old police officer, identified only as Stéphanie and a mother of two, was stabbed in the neck in Rambouillet, a prosperous town southwest of Paris known for the beautiful grounds of its chateau. Her death will further sharpen this social battle, with its clear echoes of American divisions over the role of the police.

In fact, Ms. Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Rally, did say something. She told the BFM-TV news network that France needs “to expel hundreds of thousands of illegals in France. We need to return to reason. Support our police, expel the illegals, eradicate Islamism.”

How, she asked, was it possible for “somebody who was illegally here for 10 years to have his situation regularized?”

In France, where tensions are simmering after a series of terrorist attacks, Ms. Le Pen’s rhetoric resonates. The left, which is in tatters, bereft of an effective leader or message, appears to have no answer for the moment.

France is divided between vehement supporters of the police on the right, who view the force as beleaguered by the government and exposed to the double threat of vandalism and Islamist terrorism, and a left that has focused on repeated cases of police violence and the state of some French Muslims in ghettoized suburbs of misery.

In the attack on Friday, a 49-year-old police officer, identified only as Stéphanie and a mother of two, was stabbed in the neck in Rambouillet, a prosperous town southwest of Paris known for the beautiful grounds of its chateau. Her death will further sharpen this social battle, with its clear echoes of American divisions over the role of the police.

The police shot and killed the 36-year-old Tunisian man identified as the attacker. He was not known to French domestic intelligence services.

Jean-François Ricard, France’s top antiterrorism prosecutor, said that “the words uttered by the assailant” at the time of the stabbing indicated it was a terrorist attack. He did not specifically confirm reports that the attacker shouted “Allahu Akbar,” or God is great, in Arabic.

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