Islamic State and secular France are locked in an existential war

The killing of a priest during morning mass at a Catholic church near Rouen on July 26 has sent new shockwaves through France – a country which prides itself on its secularism, but in which religion still plays a large part in many communities.

The rapid succession of attacks on French soil claimed by Islamic State (IS), from the truck rampage in Nice on Bastille Day to the killing of 84-year-old Jacques Hamel 15 days later, is a worrying sign that IS has intensified its strategy known as the “management of savagery” and that France is a primary target in its fight against the “evil forces”.

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