Will Terror Attack Lead Le Pen to Victory in France?
Another Islamic terror attack struck Paris on Thursday night when a man named Karim Cheurfi opened fire on police officers, killing one before being taken out of existence himself. The attack, which occurred in the shadow of the famous Arc du Triumph on the Champs-Elysees, could have a significant impact on the upcoming French presidential election – the first round of which is to be held Sunday.
The attack brought an early end to the campaign, but the images of another Islamist attack in a country that has dealt with more than their fair share of them could put National Front nominee Marine Le Pen in prime position to score a stunning political upset. Le Pen, who is a hard-liner on immigration, refugees, and terrorism, is facing 11 challengers, none of whom share her ideology – which could reasonably be called “France First.”
“Because our country is at war, the response must be global, total,” Le Pen said Friday in a statement that included criticism of current President Francois Hollande. She called Hollande’s approach to terrorism “weak” and “inadequate.”
Le Pen is already the front-runner, and the attack could be enough to secure her a spot in the May 7 runoff election.
With a body count of only one, Thursday’s terror attack would not ordinarily tip the scales of a national election. But the death of a Parisian police officer was another reminder of the (far more deadly) attacks the country has suffered over the last two years: The assault on Charlie Hebdo in January 2015, the Bataclan concert hall attack of November 2015, and the truck massacre in Nice last December.
ISIS claimed responsibility for Thursday’s shooting, calling the shooter a soldier in their jihad.
On Friday, President Trump tweeted that the attack would likely “have a big effect on the presidential election.”
Whether Le Pen can overcome the odds and actually win the whole shebang in May or not, it’s clear that France cannot afford to keep treating Islamic terrorism as a problem that will eventually resolve itself. Le Pen isn’t the only candidate promising to take a harsher approach to the scourge of terrorism, but her ideological credentials are more believable than most.
At some point, voters in France and other European countries are going to have to make a choice: Continue throwing the doors open to every shady Muslim refugee who darken their borders…or stand up for their own security.