For centuries, France has always proudly borne the title “Eldest Daughter of the Church.” But two days ago, the Roman Catholic Church’s beloved child was barbarically violated and desecrated in a manner probably unseen since Clovis I was baptised in Reims on Christmas Day in 496 C.E.
Striking at France’s religious heart and traditional roots, two Islamic terrorists invaded the sixteenth-century St. Etienne church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, a town of about 30,000 near Rouen in Normandy, Tuesday morning after 9:00 a.m during mass. Eighty-four year-old priest Jacques Hamel was presiding over the ceremony with several nuns in attendance when the two entered the church by a back entrance armed with knives and “fake explosive belts.”
With reported yells of “Allahu Akbar,” present at all such horrifying Islamic undertakings, the two terrorists forced Father Jacques to his knees and proceeded to slit his throat before the terrified onlookers attending morning mass.
One nun, Sister Danielle, reported the “shocking details” of Father Jacque’s murder.
“They forced him to his knees. He wanted to defend himself. And that’s when the tragedy happened,” she said. “They recorded themselves doing it. They did a sort of sermon around the altar in Arabic. It is a horror.”
More shockingly, Sister Danielle said the terrorists told her: “You Christians, you kill us.”
One nun, however, managed to slip away and notify authorities.
“I left when they began to attack Father Jacques,” she said. “I do not even know if they realised that I was leaving.”
The Islamic murderers used two nuns “as human shields” for about an hour inside the church, during which time security forces had surrounded the building. When they exited the holy place, both terrorists were shot and killed. An elderly parishioner was also critically injured, but the circumstances concerning this person’s wounding are unclear. Three other hostages were reported unharmed.
The Islamic State (IS) was quick to claim responsibility for the attack, calling the two murderers its “soldiers.”
And as unsurprising as the Islamic State’s claiming ownership of such barbarism is the fact that at least one of the Islamic killers, identified as Adele Kamiche, 19, was well known to authorities. Described as a “known terrorist threat,” he had twice tried to join the Islamic State. Reaching Turkey in the second attempt, he was caught and deported. After his return to France, Kamiche received a 30-month jail term for trying to join IS but served less than 12 months before receiving parole in March of this year.
The conditions of Kamiche’s release stipulated that he had to live with his parents, wear an ankle bracelet that tracked his movements and was allowed out unsupervised only between 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 a.m. when the bracelet was deactivated, according to Paris prosecutor, Francois Molins. (Well, the authorities who released him can at least be happy he wasn’t violating his parole conditions when he butchered Father Jacques). A prosecutor had appealed Kamiche’s release order but, tragically as it turned out, was unsuccessful.
Security authorities were also remiss in not having predicted the attack on Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray. The church’s name had appeared on a hit list of buildings security authorities seized from a “suspected Islamist extremist” in April last year.
But the fact that the 32-year-old Algerian extremist found with the list, Sid Ahmed Ghlam, was about to stage church attacks himself when arrested should also have served as a wake-up call to intelligence services. Ghlam’s plans, however, were thwarted when he murdered a French woman when hijacking her car to carry out a church attack, accidentally shooting himself in the leg in the process.
“Documents found at his flat and in a search of his computer and telephone suggested Ghlam was in contact with a French speaker in in Syria who had ordered him to carry out attacks on churches,” reported one newspaper.
And yet, there were no guards presented yesterday in front of St. Etienne.
As usual, French president Francois Hollande rushed to the latest Islamic murder scene, leaving one to wonder when he has time to run the country, the terrorist attacks coming so fast and furious nowadays. French television viewers are probably no longer impressed seeing on their screens every few weeks, and sometimes every few days, the same politicians’ faces at such bloody carnage, repeating the same words, since nothing new appears to occur to them.
But what is worse, Hollande does not mean what he says. In St. Etienne-du-Rouvray, after the usual call for unity, the French president said France is at war and that war “will be a long one.” And he will fight it “using all means necessary.”
If that is the case, then one must ask, for example, why several hundred French Muslims of the more than one thousand who have fought with IS have been allowed to return to France where some have been involved in terrorist attacks. As well, French security services have “carded” about 10,500 French Muslims as “security threats,” and yet they are still allowed to walk around free. At least one of the terrorists involved in the Paris attack last November was “carded.” So it should not surprise if the two involved in the St. Etienne outrage were also classified thus.
If Hollande were serious about winning the war against IS, he would have French soldiers on the ground in Syria, backed by French warplanes in the air, attacking IS strongholds. He also would be doing whatever it takes to defend France, including barring the borders to anyone representing a threat to the country’s security and deporting others already within.
But the French should not hold their breath that such desperately needed actions will be taken. Hollande’s Socialist Party relies on the growing Muslim to stay in power, so he does not want to do anything that would offend this vote-rich group. He indicated how important he views this community in a speech he gave to residents of an immigrant ghetto before the 2012 election.
“Here is the new France, the one which is emerging, the one which is beginning, the one of the future,” he said. “You the inhabitants, Islamic or not, of the housing projects, you are the future of France, you are the rising generation, the one which will save this country from ruin…”
Well, at least Hollande was half right. Adele Kamiche was from a housing project in St. Etienne-du-Rouvray and does represent France’s future. But he and his cohorts are not going to save the country from ruin but rather lead to it.
What Hollande and the socialists are actually hoping for is that the French people will get used to terror attacks, much like they have become desensitised to honour murders and polygamy. The French government knows it has lost control of the situation and is at a loss what to do about it.
French socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls admitted as much in a speech to high school students last year. In a disgraceful message of surrender and hopelessness rather than of hope, he told the young people that his government was powerless to stop Islamic terrorist attacks.
“French youth has to get used to living with the threats of attacks for a long period of time,” Valls said, apparently not recognising the enormity of what he was saying. “Your generation, your age class must accustom itself to living with this danger for years.”
Valls also admitted defeat in his speech in Nice after the recent terrorist attack there, using almost the same words. He said France must “learn to live with terrorism.”
One of the few French leaders who appears not to have surrendered is Marion Marechal-Le Pen, 26, a deputy in France's National Assembly for the populist National Front Party. After yesterday’s murder of Father Jacques, Le Pen first took the politicians who “have ruled France the last 30 years” to task, stating their responsibility for France’s present security situation is “immense” and “to see them chattering is revolting.”
But more importantly, showing the never-surrender spirit of the French resistance fighters who opposed the German occupation of France during World War Two, Le Pen has proposed a plan of action. Recognising the seriousness of the threat facing her country, the National Party leader stated in a tweet she is going to rejoin France’s military reserves and “invites all young patriots to do the same.” Weapons training for as many as possible for the ‘new resistance’, she recognises, is probably the only thing now that can save France and her people.
“They are killing our children, assassinating our police officers and cutting the throats of our priests. Wake up!” she stated. “In the West like in the East, Christians must stand up in order to resist Islamism.”
For France’s sake, I hope her people are listening.