Eric Margolis explains:
[O]ne must ask, why has France been so often a target of attacks, both by Islamic Jihad and lone wolf gunmen? The answer is complex.
First, France has Europe’s largest Muslim population, over 5 million people, the legacy of France’s long colonial rule over large parts of Africa, Syria, and Lebanon. Many are of North African origin, like the truck driver in Nice. They are mostly third class citizens, living in poverty and suffering sharp discrimination.
The jobless rate among young Muslims is around 50%. They live in bleak housing projects like many Americans of African origin, with no future except for drugs and other petty crimes. In short, a potentially explosive underclass that is neither French nor traditionally ‘old country’ Muslim but a rootless urban class of delinquents and petty hoodlums
Second, France has been getting ever more deeply involved militarily and politically in its former colonies. French military forces are fighting in Iraq and Syria, and in Libya, where they helped overthrow and kill Muammar Khadaffi. France has 2,500 troops battling rebels in Mali, and more troops in the Central African Republic, Chad, Djibouti, and Nigeria. French intelligence is active all over these regions and, notably, Lebanon.
In 1992, France worked with right-wing Algerian generals to overthrow and crush the newly elected democratic Islamist government in Algiers. This act triggered the bloody Algerian civil war that caused hundreds of thousands of deaths in an orgy of killing and torture.
The Algerian rebels, known as the GIA, were eventually crushed with French help, but not before they spread into Europe and influenced the younger generation of violent rebels, the Islamic State.
France’s government is in a mini-war with various militant groups who adopt the language of Islam but have little to do with traditional Islam.