Sadly, this is no longer a surprise. The city of Paris has been attacked several times. There were riots in 2005 that were race-related over then under-secretary Nicholas Sarkozy’s racially insensitive remarks. The tension in France has been building for far too long and sadly the war on terror only raised the stakes.
France has a large population of legal immigrants whose primary language is Arabic. Speaking Arabic in France is like speaking Spanish in America. It is the second most common language. For years this segment of the population has been treated as if they were inferior. Immigrant children often grow up with chips on their shoulders placed there by parents who taught them to survive in a culture that doesn’t exist in France. This culture is flanked by what is known as Le Front National, a party that at its core wants “France for the French.” Anything non-French is demonized.
The Le Front National was long-headed by Jean Marie Le Pen until few years ago he ceded control of the party to his daughter Marine. Le Pen made it down to the final two at one point because everyone despised the government of Jacques Chirac in 2002. But when it came down to it the French never thought Le Pen was a viable leader. The man was simply too much of an extremist. (On a side note: the 2002 French election has similarities to the 2016 American presidential elections in some ways except that neither option seems to be less disgusting whereas the French decided to go with the evil they know and reelect Chirac.)
France has areas in most midsized and major cities known colloquially as ZUPs. These “zones of primary urbanization” were mostly constructed as government-subsidized housing, much like “the projects” that some American cities have. These zones exist almost everywhere in France and are universally treated as places where second-class people live. You’ll likely get some odd looks if you tell people you live in the ZUP. The widespread existence of such areas, which are not altogether foreign concepts to most Americans, in many cases only exist in theory for French who live in less populated areas. With France, the only sparsely populated area you have is in the very middle of the country called the Massif Central. There’s pretty much nothing there. No rail lines, not a lot of people, mostly just farmers and their crops. Europe is by nature more of a pressure cooker because you have a country which is barely bigger than California with more than double its population.
For a country with literature like “The Foreigner” by Albert Camus this all seems to be very backwards. Colonialism seems to have done quite a bit of damage to present-day France. Its after effects are felt at home and abroad and in modern immigration policies.
Given the fact that people can migrate into the country via rail and boat mostly unchecked, especially since Germany has so boldly declared their open-borders policy, you’ve got a recipe for disaster, if even just a few members of ISIS or any another radical Islamic group radicalizes fellow French Muslims who are already disgruntled about living conditions.
All of this may seem like old news now because of the attempted coup in Turkey but similar forces were at work in both places. Except maybe Enes Kanter is the one that tried to take over Turkey.