The grisly murder of teacher Samuel Paty shocked Europe and once again put terrorism and counter-terrorism high on the agenda. The latest wave of terrorist attacks illustrates that the threat from violent extremists is real and extremely hard to counteract. In addition, the attacks have sparked renewed discussions on fundamental issues related to freedom of expression, religious freedom, secularism and social security in general. The murder of Paty has also played into the so-called caricature controversy, which was re-ignited when several cartoons were republished in Charlie Hebdo in connection with the trial of the perpetrators of the 2015 attack against the magazine’s staff.

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In France, President Emmanuel Macron has launched several proposals aimed at further strengthening French secularism and thereby fight back at what he labels "Islamic separatism". The initiatives are part of a larger and louder debate about the role of religion in secular France. Macron also called for even closer counter-terrorism cooperation within the European Union.

What characterizes the terrorist threat in France? How has the French far-right reacted to the attacks and the resulting tensions? And how are the challenges interpreted, presented and handled by French politicians and French authorities?

To shed light on various aspects of the situation in France, the Consortium for Research on Terrorism and International Crime, in collaboration with the TERRA project at the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment (FFI) and NUPIs Europe seminar series, have invited Petter Nesser, Pietro Gattinara and Pernille Rieker.