Friday 2 December 2016

Terror atrocities by Islamic militants could drive Europe straight into waiting arms of the far-right

Con Coughlin

Published 27/07/2016 | 02:30

French police officers stand guard in front of the city hall at Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen, after an attack on a church that left an 85-year-old priest dead. Photo: Francois Mori/AP
French police officers stand guard in front of the city hall at Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen, after an attack on a church that left an 85-year-old priest dead. Photo: Francois Mori/AP

Of all the places Islamist terrorists have chosen to ply their wicked trade in Europe these past few weeks, the sleepy French town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray is one of the more unlikely settings for committing acts of extreme violence.

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Unlike the high-profile, Isil-inspired attacks France has suffered in Paris and Nice, yesterday's ordeal in this small town in Normandy, situated 6km south of the great French cathedral city of Rouen, began with an attack on a group of worshippers attending morning Mass.

After entering the town's Norman church and taking several worshippers hostage, the two knifemen were heard to shout "Daesh" - the Arabic acronym for Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil) - before slitting the throat of an 85-year-old Catholic priest, Fr Jacques Hamel.

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