A main “axis” of its strategy, explained Mr. Macron in the speech, would consist in building “an Islam of the Enlightenment” in France – thus incorporating Islam in a flagship achievement of French cultural history, a period dominated by thinkers like Voltaire and Diderot.
After the assassination of Mr. Paty, the French far-right leader, Marine Le Pen, declared: “Islamism is a warlike ideology whose means of conquest is terrorism. The same day, the Minister of the Interior of Mr. Macron, Gerald Darmanin, announced police operations against “the internal enemy, insidious and extremely well organized”.
Two days later, Mr Macron told a nationwide audience, praising Mr Paty: “I named the evil. The actions have been decided. We made them even harder. And we will take them to their conclusion.
In this context, the show of restraint by Mr Kurz, who not long ago echoed the anti-immigrant message of the far right, has not gone unnoticed.
“He resisted the populist temptation,” said Peter Neumann, director of the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at King’s College London. “It would have been easy and probably popular with his constituents to deliver a more polarizing speech, one that takes a hard line on Muslims and how Islam needs to change.
“He could have made a Macron speech, but he didn’t,” Neumann added.
Meanwhile, Mr. Macron continued to fiercely defend the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, first published in Charlie Hebdo, in the name of “preserving freedom”.