French president François Hollande has spoken in Paris on the theme of democracy in the face of terrorism.
In a firm speech the head of state sought to rise above political quarrels and show confidence at a time of low public opinion.
The president said, “This war, it is a new genre. It presents a global challenge for democracies. And this is the reason why France is committed both far and wide, and here. By fighting in foreign countries our armies defend us because it’s the same threat, they are the same murderers that we face in Iraq, Mali, Syria and at home.”
Hollande spoke of France’s record on the international stage, reiterating that it is a country at war. A war, he says, it must win.
“At the same time and along with the government of Manuel Valls, I will do everything to protect the French. I also owe them the truth. The threat is there and is going to last. We must ensure security without abandoning life as we want it, as we understand it, because this is essential. Terrorists present two challenges: We must defeat them and we must remain ourselves.”
After a summer marked by the attack in Nice and the controversy over the burkini on French beaches, Hollande expressed his thoughts on secularism and Islam. Islam must adapt, he said, and the Republic will do the same.
“Can Islam accommodate secularism?,” Hollande asked. “My answer is yes. Clearly yes. Nothing in secularism opposes the practice of Islam in France, and this is the essential point that complies with the law. What needs to succeed is the construction of an Islam of France.”
His message was clear. Defeat terrorism but do not renounce French values or anything that is French.
He also emphasised to the public the danger in doubting what France stands for, stating:
“Our identity is our history, our culture, our values, our way of life.
It is not frozen in time, it is not a still photograph. Identity is in perpetual motion. This is why France is more than an identity: it is an idea.
The danger will be to face the test. Should France doubt itself it will stop, shrink and shut down.”