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How the French Riviera became a hotspot for the jihadists: SUE REID reveals some immigrants are trying to replace European democracy with their own Islamic rules

  • French Riviera is favourite of holidaying Britons and hosted upper classes
  • But the area has a dangerous underbelly fuelled by Islamic extremism
  • Nice was branded a ‘jihadist breeding ground’ by political violence expert
  • Rising concern that population of immigrants in area refuse to assimilate

The French Riviera, with its upmarket seaside resorts of Nice and Cannes, has long been a favourite of holidaying Britons.

From the middle of the 18th century, this Mediterranean coast on the south-east corner of France hosted the British upper classes and became the playground of the rich, the famous and the royal, including wild-living King Edward VII when he was Prince of Wales.

Today, the long sandy beaches and magnificent Promenade des Anglais, lined with palm trees, are still a top destination for the well-heeled and well-connected wanting peace and privacy.

Yet this image of sophistication is little more than a veneer. The French Riviera has a dangerous underbelly fuelled by Islamic extremism. Nice, its largest city, was branded a ‘jihadist breeding ground’ yesterday by a leading expert on political violence.

Peter Neumann, director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s College, London, said: ‘Dozens of people have gone from Nice to join the Islamic State… and the first recorded attempted attack in Europe was very nearby in Cannes.’

Society is changing rapidly in the south of France, and nowhere more than in Nice. With a growing population of immigrants, many second or third generation from Muslim countries of north Africa, there is rising concern that they refuse to assimilate and instead want to replace European democracy with their own Islamic rule book.

A poll for the respected French daily Le Figaro found recently that people from all ranks in society have a growing unease about this. In 2010, for instance, 39 per cent of France’s centre-Left Socialist Party voters felt Islam was too prominent in French society. The poll showed that this year a majority of 52 per cent thought that way.

So what is behind this change of heart? Shocking events such as the one that happened last month at the Vitis Cafe on the Nice seafront certainly have not helped.

Police launched a criminal investigation


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