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French press review 26 September 2014

France’s war against the Islamic State armed group is everyone’s front-page story this morning as the press mourns the beheading of French mountain guide Hervé Gourdel by the Algerian jihadists of Jund al-Khilifa (Soldiers of the Caliphate) who have proclaimed allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) armed group.


Gourdel was kidnapped on Sunday while hiking in a national park in eastern Algeria that was once a magnet for tourists but later became a sanctuary for Islamists. That was shortly after the IS urged sympathisers to "kill a disbelieving American or European - especially the spiteful and filthy French".

"We are all filthy French," shouts Libération in its front page, in a gesture of defiance. This is while Le Parisien/ Aujourd’hui en France opened its pages to Muslim dignitaries who opposed to IS's "barbarism" and Le Figaro publishes a statement by Muslim leaders in the same vein.

Dossier: War in Mali

The national dailies report that Muslim groups have announced a plan to hold a demonstration outside Paris's main mosque Friday to denounce the "barbarism" of Islamic State militants.

Muslim leaders it says are also appealing to the Islamic faithful to come out in number to condemn "atrocities" committed in the name of Islam. However it points out that some of France’s Muslims say they are tired of having to denounce atrocities which have nothing to do with their faith.

Libé also salutes the #NotInMyName British video campaign denouncing the distortion of Islam, which is causing a buzz around the world – an open challenge to the IS armed group, according to the left-leaning newspaper.

Le Figaro welcomes the mood of grief, outrage and national mobilisation that has gripped the nation as it stands up against the jihadist peril. This after President François Hollande’s chairing of a crisis defence council meeting where he reiterated France’s resolve to step up aerial bombardments of IS targets in Iraq and ordered a review of what needs to be done about its activities in Syria. He pledged "determination, composure and vigilance" in the face of jihad threats against France, ordering flags nationwide to be flown at half-mast for three days from Friday to mourn the loss of the 55-year-old mountaineer.

The Communist Party newspaper explores the emotions Gourdel’s decapitation is causing on both sides of the Mediterranean as Muslims from all denominations joined well-wishers to pay tribute to an innocent victim of what it describes as Barack Obama's and François Hollande's secret plan. The paper says the airstrikes against IS are actually part of a plot to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power.

Background reading: Previous French scandals

Le Monde explores the effects of the murder on the Algerian authorities and the damage itis likely to do to a country struggling to recover from its recent history of Islamist-sponsored terrorism and violence.

Ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy’s return to the campaign trail two years after his defeat under the pretext of seeking the presidency of the opposition UMP party attracts a series of comments from the national dailies.

The former conservative leader addressed a rally attended by 4,000 of his supporters in the northern French town of Lambersart Thursday.

Right-wing Le Figaro reports that he pulled some surprises at the rally, notably his readiness now to participate in party primaries to elect the UMP’s new leader, something he seemed unready to do when he announced his return to politics and which his supporters would find degrading for a former head of state.

Libération says his attempt to reconquer the hearts of the people was littered with clichés about charting a new course for the party rather than presenting any new ideas.

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