Appalling miscommunication

Assuming the stance of a man of action, almost like a military commander, Macron presented a strategy to prevent exactly the sort of murderous acts that would then unfold in the second half of October. The failure of that strategy is so spectacular that there is something spooky about it. It is a hair-raising lesson about how dangerous it can be when communication goes wrong.

Macron cited "the school" as a central pillar of his programme. The Islamist milieu was increasingly undermining compulsory education, he said. More and more parents were withdrawing their children from regular schools and sending them to private institutions where they were taught a radical version of Islam that rejected the values of the Republic.

This trend must be stopped, said Macron. The school must be the institution where all children learn the meaning of liberty, equality and fraternity.

France's President Emmanuel Macron in Nice following the knife attack (photo: Eric Gaillard/abaca/picture alliance)
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It is impossible not to view the decapitation of Samuel Paty as a gruesome answer to this part of Macron's speech. The history teacher had shown his class the Muhammad cartoons published six years ago by the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo as a way of addressing the issue of freedom of expression.

The state leadership could not have been more cruelly reminded that its words are ineffectual for reaching the intended audience. This is no less apparent in other elements of Macron's anti-Islamism strategy.

The President said he wanted to create an "Islam of Enlightenment" (un Islam des Lumières) in order to counter the obscurantist Islam of the preachers in the suburbs.

In his day, Barack Obama even dispatched a blond Arab princess – Rania of Jordan – to fight bad Islam with good. Le Président de la République decided just to do it himself, without mediation. This is simply arrogant, a criminal overestimation of his own moral authority.

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