What Can France Do Now?

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To put that number in context, the whole prison population of France is less than 70,000, of whom 60% are Muslims. It only takes a few dozen trained terrorists with an effective support network to bring ordinary life to a stop in a major city. France has had the toughest enforcement policy against radical Islam among the major European nations, as Daniel Pipes observes. But French security clearly has been overwhelmed. The use of assault rifles and (reportedly) a rocket launcher by highly-skilled gunmen in the center of Paris is a statement of contempt towards the authorities on the part of the terrorists.

The means by which France could defeat the terrorists are obvious: To compel the majority of French Muslims to turn against the terrorists, the French authorities would have to make them fear the French state more than they fear the terrorists. That is a nasty business involving large numbers of deportations, revocation of French citizenship, and other threats that inevitably would affect many individuals with no direct connection to terrorism. In the short term it would lead to more radicalization. The whole project of integration as an antidote to radicalism would go down the drain. The effort would be costly, but ultimately it would succeed: most French Muslims simply want to stay in France and earn a living.

There is no good outcome here, but the worst outcome would be the degeneration of France into a hostage state.

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Paris Massacre: Seven Questions and Facts

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