Colonial history and alienation of Muslims make France target of ruthless vengeance
When militants loyal to Isil seek to inflict pain on Europe, France is their preferred target, a grim reality borne out yet again with yesterday's knife slaughter of a Catholic priest.
Since January 2015, Isil-inspired attackers have killed at least 235 people in France, by far the largest casualty rate of in the West. French citizens or French-speaking residents have committed the overwhelming majority of strikes, often employing suicide tactics alongside command of their home surroundings.
French President Francois Hollande argues that France is Isil's top enemy on the continent because of his homeland's reputation as a cradle of human rights and democracy. "If terrorists strike us, it is because they know what France represents," Hollande said after this month's Bastille Day truck attack that killed 84 people on Nice's crowded waterfront.