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The French Prime Minister Was Booed at a Memorial Service in Nice

The French prime minister went to Nice to offer his condolences. He was greeted by a crowd that didn't want him there.

PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 15:  French Prime Minister Manuel Valls makes a statement to the press after a Security and Defense Council, chaired by French President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace on July 15, 2016 in Paris, France. The Security Council was held after yesterday's attack by Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a Tunisian-born Frenchman, after he drove a lorry through crowds gathered to watch a firework display during Bastille Day celebrations on the Promenade des Anglais in leaving 84 dead and many more injured in Nice.  (Photo by Nicolas Kovarik/IP3/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 15: French Prime Minister Manuel Valls makes a statement to the press after a Security and Defense Council, chaired by French President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace on July 15, 2016 in Paris, France. The Security Council was held after yesterday's attack by Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a Tunisian-born Frenchman, after he drove a lorry through crowds gathered to watch a firework display during Bastille Day celebrations on the Promenade des Anglais in leaving 84 dead and many more injured in Nice. (Photo by Nicolas Kovarik/IP3/Getty Images)

At a Monday memorial service for the at least 84 people killed and more than 200 injured during last Thursday’s terrorist attack in Nice, attendees cheered for emergency workers, clapped along to the French national anthem, and kept quiet during a moment of silence for the victims.

But when Prime Minister Manuel Valls emerged from the crowd to sign a condolence book, the crowd booed, called him a murderer, and yelled at him to resign.

The incident reflected a growing dissatisfaction and sense of distrust toward the ruling French government, which has failed to stop three major terrorist attacks in the past 18 months. That sentiment that was made worse when Valls said after the Nice attack that “times have changed, and France is going to have to live with terrorism.”

Valls claimed after the attack that Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel was radicalized too quickly for him to even appear on French radar screens. According to Lahouaiej-Bouhlel’s computer records, the future terrorist searched a number of times for videos of deadly traffic accidents and for information about Nice’s Bastille Day celebration. French media reports that Lahouaiej-Bouhlel even ran trials of the attack days before it took place.

And the crowd in Nice on Monday aren’t the only ones who see the attacks as a failure directly tied to those leading the country.

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the center-right politician who led France until François Hollande beat him by a small margin in 2012, has used the series of attacks that began after he left office as an opportunity for him to bash the Hollande government.

“I know that we shouldn’t fight or tear each other up while the victims haven’t been buried yet,” Sarkozy said in an interview with French media. “But I want to say that everything that should have been done over the past 18 months was not done.”

Sarkozy announced earlier this month that he plans to resign from his post as head of his political party, Les Républicains, hinting that he could be interested in seeking the presidency again. He would be unable to accept an eventual nomination if he remained head of the party.

Photo Credit: Nicolas Kovarik/IP3/Getty Images

Siobhán O’Grady is a freelance journalist working across sub-Saharan Africa. She previously worked as a staff writer at Foreign Policy. @siobhan_ogrady

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