Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: A Shadow Falls on French Liberty

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: A Shadow Falls on French Liberty

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: A shadow falls on French liberty

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An editorial from the Waterloo Region Record, published July 16:

The world grieves for France. Again. This noble and beleaguered country suffered yet another bizarre massacre of its people on Thursday, this time in the seaside resort city of Nice.

Initial reports indicated that 84 people were dead and another 202 injured. As people had gathered to watch fireworks on France's national holiday, a 31-year-old Tunisian native mowed them down in a rented truck.

The assailant, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, died after police pursued and shot him. Though he had some incidents of petty crime in his past, there was no immediate suggestion that he had been involved with terrorist groups. Yet he was heavily armed. While there is still much that is not known about this latest atrocity, French President François Hollande immediately connected the rampage with a larger campaign of hostility. "The whole of France is facing the threat of Islamist terrorism," he said. "Human rights are denied by fanatics, and France is clearly their target."

It has been a dreadful few months around the world. We have witnessed massacres at airports and nightclubs, viciously fatal bombs in the streets and political destabilization. No nation seems completely safe. But France seems to be singled out. This is the third massacre of civilians in 18 months on French soil. Seventeen people died in January 2015 in attacks that began at the Charlie Hebdo office. In November 2015, 130 people were killed in Paris during attacks on restaurants and the Bataclan concert hall.

On a smaller, though still profoundly ugly, scale there were seven other attacks in France between Charlie Hebdo and now. Many of them displayed the same kind of primitive weaponry as Bouhlel showed this week: A man beheading his boss and trying to blow up a gas plant in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier; a Moroccan-born man with a meat cleaver attacking a police station in Paris. …

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