'We are at war': Islamophobes react to Nice attack

'We are at war': Islamophobes react to Nice attack
As the world mourns for France, some have used Thursday's tragedy as an opportunity to justify Muslim bans, 'Sharia tests' and advance hateful rhetoric.
5 min read
15 Jul, 2016
'Told you so': Donald Trump often cites terror attacks to justify draconian law proposals [Getty]
Following Thursday's horrific attack in Nice, where at least 84 people were killed, the world was quick to react with expressions of grief, solidarity and prayers for the victims.

However, while the world took in the shocking news, some were also fast to use the situation to advance their own xenophobic agendas, drawing on the attack's possible link to the Islamic State group.

'Told you so'

Among the first to respond was the US Republican Party's presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump, who tweeted: "Another horrific attack, this time in Nice, France. Many dead and injured. When will we learn? It is only getting worse".

This type of tweet, in which Trump adopts the 'told you so' tone of a foresighted but ignored warner, has become his standard reaction to acts of terror. These statements show Trump repeatedly insisting to the world that his draconian proposals for dealing with Islamic extremism - which include a ban on Muslims from entering the US - are justified by repeated acts of terror that authorities can't seem to stop.

In the immediate aftermath of the Orlando nightclub shooting on June 12, Trump tweeted: "Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!"

Indicative of Trump's priorities in times of tragedy is also the fact that his tweet for "prayers and condolences" for the families of the Nice victims only came two hours after his initial "when will we learn?" post.

In a Fox News interview with Trump on the day of the attack, right-wing political commentator Bill O'Reilly said "I believe it’s a world war now. We are in a world war scenario. It's no longer just isolated ISIS attacks. Do you agree with that?"

To this, Trump assuredly replied, "I certainly do... And I've been saying it for a long time. It's out of control. We have a president that doesn't want to call it what it is. And you know you look at World Trade Center, you look at San Bernardino, you look at Paris, 130 people killed and so many injured in Paris from that attack, and you look at Orlando. It's out of control."

Compulsory 'Sharia tests'

Also in the US, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich used the climate of fear to raise hysteria about a global "war" between two monoliothic entities. He also went as far as saying that Muslims should take compulsory tests to see if they believe in Sharia law - with little regard for the fact that "Sharia" is not a solid set of rules and encompasses a broad range of understandings - from the literalistic and puritanical to more liberal interpretations.

"Let me be as blunt and direct as I can be. Western civilization is in a war. We should frankly test every person here who is of a Muslim background, and if they believe in Sharia, they should be deported," Gingrich said in an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity.

"Sharia is incompatible with Western civilisation. Modern Muslims who have given up Sharia, glad to have them as citizens. Perfectly happy to have them next door."

Asked by Hannity how the US would "possibly ascertain whether or not that person really wants assimilation, really wants a new life," the former finalist for Trump's vice presidential running mate responded: 

"The first step is you have to ask them the questions... The second step is you have to monitor what they're doing on the Internet. The third step is, let me be very clear, you have to monitor the mosques. I mean, if you're not prepared to monitor the mosques, this whole thing is a joke. Where do you think the primary source of recruitment is? Where do you think the primary place of indoctrination is? You've got to look at the madrassas -- if you're a school which is teaching Sharia, you want to expel it from the country."

Gingrich and Trump, however, were not the only ones calling for draconian laws to be imposed upon minority groups.

In the UK, British columnist Katie Hopkins resumed her humdrum of xenophobic claptrap, saying "Dont spend 3 days mourning. Spend 3 days deporting".

Fuel for France's far-right

Many in France are now fearful that right-wing politicians like Marine Le Pen and the National Front will be strengthened by Thursday's tragedy.

"It's a good opportunity for Marine Le Pen. … Ninety percent of the people are not against any Muslims here, but the right wing will profit from this even if the people who did this are not Muslim," Mr Kerdoni, a French Muslim of Moroccan origin told the Washington Times on Thursday.

Taking to Twitter, Le Pen herself said in a tweet in French that "France has once again been struck by horror. Thoughts go out to the victims. The fight against Islamist fundamentalism must begin MLP #Nice."

Le Pen was alluding to her belief that current anti-terror legislation is inadequate. Her tweet also seemed to be in anticipation of the upcoming French elections next spring, in which her party hopes to make some key gains.

The approval of France's current President Francoise Hollande is currently at an all-time low, while recent polling has shown Le Pen's Front National to be at a high. 

Le Pen is expected to make it into the second run-off in France's two-round electoral system, although she is not expected to win the final showdown with a more centrist candidate.