French Prime Minister Manuel Valls says adherents to the radical Saudi-backed Salafi ideology have gained the upper hand in France as they push to attract followers. Speaking at a round-table in Paris on Monday, the premier warned that Salafists were “winning the ideological and cultural battle” in France. “Their message — their messages on social networks — is the only one we end up hearing,” he warned.
Salafism is often equated with Wahhabism, the radical ideology dominating Saudi Arabia and freely preached by clerics in the Arab country. Wahhabism is also the ideology of the Daesh terrorist group, which claimed responsibility for last year’s deadly terrorist attacks in the French capital. The November 13, 2015 attacks targeting several areas in Paris killed some 130 people dead and injured over 350 others.
Daesh has also claimed responsibility for bombings in the Belgian capital, Brussels, last month, which took the lives of 34 people. Most European governments, however, are close allies of the Saudi regime and main suppliers of arms along with the US to Riyadh which is backing militants to topple the Syrian government. According to a US intelligence report from August 2012, "the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria" was "exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime.”