Emmanuel Macron has made a complete pig’s ear of trying to convince anxious French citizens the inevitable influx of migrants following the botched withdrawal of Afghanistan will not bring terror threats with it.
France has suffered a series of devastating terrorist attacks since the EU’s borders burst open in 2015. The migrant surge back then was associated with the Syrian civil war but in fact, consisted of plenty of Africans and migrants from other parts of the Middle East.
Attempting to ease concerns triggered by the rapid evacuation of Kabul over the past week, Macron yesterday appeared on TV station, TF1 to encourage the public to “not confuse the phenomenon of migration” with the “risk” of terrorism.
His feeble attempt to calm nerves follows last week’s worrying revelation that five Afghans evacuated to Paris were identified as terror risks. One was convicted for breaching surveillance orders just a couple of days after arriving in France.
“There are sometimes links, there are people who commit the worst on our soil who are of recent or older immigrant background. However, I distinguish these two concepts very clearly,” added the president, unconvincingly.
Straight out of the traps to blast Macron for his flawed assurances was right-wing leader, Marine Le Pen.
“The link between immigration and terrorism is not anecdotal as seems to say Mr. Macron”, said Ms Le Pen over Twitter last night. “The migratory route that is opening up must be prevented and host cities opened in the countries bordering Afghanistan: the security of France and Europe is at stake.”
On 17 August, days before Kabul fell, Macron gave a speech on Afghanistan in which he tried to broaden his appeal to the right – an increasingly common campaigning ploy of his ahead of next April’s presidential election. We “must anticipate and protect ourselves against significant irregular migratory flows which would endanger those who use them, and would feed trafficking of all kinds,” said Macron.
“I do not think that the situation we are going to experience is comparable to 2015, because Afghanistan is not Syria and there have already been very strong movements.
“What is certain is that there will be more people who will try to come to Europe, and so that will create pressure on our capacity to welcome.” Little surprise then that he would try and tone down his comments after Kabul fell to the Taliban last weekend.
Macron’s remarks angered the French left, but like the British political establishment over the past ten days, he was unwavering in his support of Afghan asylum seekers who would receive France’s “unconditional” support.
It was in this speech that France’s president carelessly raised fears of terrorist attacks on French soil, prompting last night’s partial U-turn on TF1. “The zero risk of an attack does not exist,” said Macron who was eager to emphasise that attacks in France have been at the hands of “isolated individuals influenced by external content, but not by plots constructed from the outside.
“I am very careful, anything can happen… This is why we must always be vigilant”.
You don’t say.