The Corner

National Security & Defense

Europe’s Political Elites Expect Their Populations to Grow Accustomed to Living with Terror

Thousands of people gathered in or around Rouen cathedral for the funeral service of Father Jacques Hamel, the 85-year-old priest butchered while saying mass in his own church by two 19-year-old Islamists. It was raining. Photographs of these mourners huddled under umbrellas convey the despondency of the moment. Bernard Cazeneuve, Minister of the Interior and a bureaucrat like any other, did his duty by attending. Dominique Lebrun, Archbishop of Rouen, told those present to look into their hearts to find the light and to love their neighbors.

Father Hamel was defenseless in the long-drawn campaign against Christians. To give a few select examples: Already in 1996, seven French monks were slaughtered by Islamists in a monastery in Algeria. Father Andrea Santoro was shot and killed in 2007 in his church in the Turkish province of Trabzund. In 2008 Paulos Faraj Rahho, Archbishop of Mosul, was murdered by jihadists. Father Frans van der Lugt, a Dutch Jesuit, was murdered in Homs in 2014. And so it goes. I have in my hands an Islamist publication, The Sign of the Sword, the author given as Shaykh Abdalqadir al-Murabit. In a passage defining the obligations of jihad, he writes, “Priests in their churches, unlike recluse worshipping monks, should of course be killed without any exception.”

Mournfulness at Rouen has to be weighed against defiance at a ceremony in Nice commemorating the 84 victims of an Islamist truck-driver. Prime Minister Manuel Valls was present in his official capacity, and the crowd booed him for failing to provide security. “Murderer!” they shouted at him with unprecedented anger. His recommendation is that the French must become accustomed to living with terror.

Comparable to France though with fewer dead, Germany has experienced four acts of Islamist terror in a short space of time. Chancellor Angela Merkel at a press conference said she bore no responsibility for this spate of violence, and has no intention of changing her policy of open-door migration. She also says, “Anxiety and fear cannot guide our political decisions.” The ruling elites in these two major European countries show themselves to be not only helpless but out of touch with public opinion, indeed with reality altogether. The rising backlash is an object lesson about the origins of fascism.

David Pryce-Jones — David Pryce-Jones is a British author and commentator and a senior editor of National Review.

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