French weekly magazines review 5 October 2014

The commentators are into some kind of consensus that the threat of terrorism by home grown Islamists has never been so high in France. This is in the wake of the beheading last week of French mountaineer Hervé Gourdel by Algerian militants linked to the Islamic State armed group and France’s involvement in US-led air strikes against Daesh’s positions in Iraq.

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Jihadism: France poorly protected” headlines L’Express in its cover page story. The right-wing journal says the high numbers of young French citizens returning home after fighting with jihadists in Syria and Iraq are posing a nightmare to homeland security services.

This is as interior ministry reports said that 353 French jihadists already fight in Iraq and Syria, 174 are on their way to the war front, 189 are on their way back home and 232 preparing to leave for the region.

Background reading: Previous French scandals

L’Express says at least two serious terrorist attacks are foiled every year in France, citing sources at the intelligences service. It doubts that new tough anti-terrorism legislation just passed by parliament, will suffice to deal with what Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve describes as a “pre-emptive war”.

Le Nouvel Observateur says most of the young recruits are carried away by graphic images of children killed by chemical weapons in Syria. The left-leaning weekly tells the shocking story of a 15 year-old French girl called Lea, arrested by police as she was about to leave for Syria.

She explained to the magazine that she had been brainwashed by jihadists to commit a massacre on French soil. Lea speaks heartily about how her uneventful life tipped over one fateful day, after she posted a message on her Facebook page saying she would love to be forgiven for all the silly things she had done in life.

Le Point laid hands on confessions made to the police by a young deserter from Syria forced to flee because of the hard conditions there. Mourad told French intelligence officers he was radicalized on Facebook and in his bedroom. His long story includes useful details about his journey from Paris to Turkey, the jihadist who recruited him and the sophisticated system put in place by Daesh to get young recruits to the war front.

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Conditions were unbearable said Mourad -- wake up time at 6 am, no hot water, no electricity, no toilets, shabby meals and lots of prayer sessions and insults. According to Le Point, up to 60 women from France are contributing in various ways in the Jihadist war effort in Syria and Iraq with more than 900 French nationals and foreigners working for the Jihadists on French soil.

What we are witnessing is Islam against Islam, writes Marianne. For the left-leaning publication, the recent beheading of journalists and humanitarian workers coupled with the outrage the barbaric crimes have provoked, underline to what extent Islam is at war with itself.

In her own editorial L’Express argues that the spilling of the French mountaineer’s blood will not be for nothing. That caused a major event to happen in France writes the paper--Muslims taking to the streets to denounce the exploitation of Islam for barbaric ends. It however warns opinion leaders that the jihad against France is not a clash of civilizations but a direct consequence of rising Islamophobia -- the tendency in French people to consider overgrown beards and the savage ways of Daesh as the essence of Islam.

Omar Sy, described as the hottest French film star since winning a best actor Oscar in the 2013 picture Untouchables is Le Nouvel Observateur’s man of the week. Sy who is born of Senegalese and Mauritanian parents now lives in Los Angeles where he sat down with correspondents of the journal to discuss his new movie titled “Samba”. It’s a social comedy about the trials and tribulations of an illegal immigrant in France. The picture starts screening in France on 15 October.

Le Nouvel Observateur described the 19 million filmgoers which saw the Untouchables in France as a great moment of national unity for France. The journal says it expects Samba to be another defining moment for the “cool giant” from the French neighbourhoods who has managed to stay away from the poisons of celebrity.

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