Foreign and domestic policies make France 'most threatened country'

PARIS (Reuters) - After two militant attacks in Paris killed 17 people in January last year, Islamic State's French-language magazine Dar al-Islam appeared with the Eiffel Tower on the cover and the headline "May Allah curse France".

France was struck again last November, with 130 dead in gun and bomb attacks in Paris, and now in Nice, where at least 84 people were killed by a truck that plowed through crowds after a fireworks display on Thursday evening.
"Terrorism ... is a threat that weighs heavily on France and will continue doing so for a long time," Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Friday while vowing Paris would fight back.
France's counter-terrorism chief Patrick Calvar said as much to a parliamentary committee last May, when the main fear was about security for the Euro 2016 football championship this summer. In the end that tournament went off without any major incident.
"Today, France is clearly the most threatened country," the head of the General Directorate for Internal Security (DGSI) said. "The question about the threat is not to know 'if' but 'when' and 'where'."
The reasons that make France a prime target for radical Islamist groups range from its present-day military operations all the way to - at least in Islamic State's propaganda - the Crusades from the 11th to 15th centuries when Christians battled Muslims in the Middle East.
The country, which has Europe's largest Muslim minority, also has a steadfastly secular culture that sidelines religion in public life, typified by a ban on Islamic face veils in public and headscarves in state schools and the civil service.
Supporters say this encourages a common French identity but critics say it alienates non-Christian minorities, who see many vestiges of France's traditional Catholicism - such as official holidays for Christmas and Easter - but little leeway for them.



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