PARIS - French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has warned of a "resumption" of the terrorist threat in Europe during a visit to the US last Friday in a bid to prompt the US government to “strengthen Franco-American counterterrorism cooperation” prior to the Paris Olympics in 2024.
Darmanin, who has been described as "authoritarian" in his approach to law and order, said: "We have come to remind them [America] that for Europeans and for France the primary risk is Sunni Islamist terrorism and that anti-terrorist collaboration between intelligence services is absolutely essential."
The French minister met with US law enforcement officials and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. He criticised what he called the US's "national vision" of security threats and its focus on white supremacism and conspiracy theorists, imploring the US to "not forget what appears to us be the primary threat … Sunni terrorism".
Without citing any specific threat, Darmanin highlighted what he called the "exogenous threat" to France and Europe from Islamic terrorism.
Darmanin's remarks are likely to alarm France’s large Muslim population, which is overwhelmingly Sunni. The government of French President Emmanuel Macron has been accused of deliberately fostering Islamophobia and persecuting Muslims in the name of secularism and counterterrorism.
Darmanin, as interior minister, was a key figure in the passing of the 2021 “anti-separatism” law, which was slammed by activists for targeting the country's Muslim population, restricting their basic liberties and criminalising Islam in the sphere of civil society.
Along with this, Darmanin has led moves to shut down Muslim—oriented charities in the name of "counterterrorism". Macron’s France is widely seen to have drawn close to the UAE in their hardline outlook on “political Islam”, which has targeted charities and other Muslim-NGOs as "terrorist" organisations.
This approach by the French government has been criticised for failing to establish nuance between mainstream Muslims and extremists.
The French government has been accused of fuelling extremism while claiming to combat it by institutionalising anti-Muslim discrimination and disenfranchising Muslims.