Terrorism in France has usually come—in recent years—from clandestine Muslim groups engaged in a perpetual jihad against the West. But recent attacks attributed to Corsican separatists provide another example of a violent nationalism rearing its head at precisely the time when Europe’s policy elite is proclaiming a new era of unity and cooperation.

The immediate reason for the recent wave of bombings stems from Prime Minister Alain Juppe’s brief visit to Corsica last summer, when he told the territorial assembly that he would not even discuss institutional autonomy for the island. In spite of the consensus among Corsicans in favor of independence—or at least a higher degree of autonomy—Juppe said that any such negotiations will set Corsicans against each other and so must be avoided.

A month after Juppe’s speech, the nationalist Corsican People’s Front (FLNC) issued a statement denouncing Juppe’s “anti-Corsican racism” and announcing that the cease-fire in effect since last January could no longer be observed. The announcement was unnecessary, for the FLNC had just days before made an attempt on the life of José Rossi, a UDF-PR deputy from the Corse-de-Sud region and one of the most visible officials on the island. While Rossi was in his villa in Porticcio, terrorists placed a bomb outside the door of his office in Ajaccio, occupied at the time by his daughter and her husband. An anonymous telephone call informed the police of the bomb, which was safely disarmed. Operating mainly in the southern regions of the island, the terrorists in late August launched several attacks on representatives of the French government, setting off bombs at the offices of the Société nationale Corse-Mediterranée and the Direction departmentale de l’équipement.

Corsica’s problem is nothing new—terrorism has been practiced since the 1970’s by both FLNC-style groups and by fanatical anti-independence groups, rough equivalents of the UDF in Ulster —but according to Le Monde, the terrorism has taken a new turn. In a story on a car-bombing on a crowded street in Bastia, the newspaper noted that the autonomists no longer care if Corsicans die in the struggle to throw off the French yoke.

Alain Juppe’s speech to the territorial assembly gave a new impetus to a nationalist movement whose grievances have long been ignored by French leaders. As Robert Ramsay explained in The Corsican Time-Bomb, Corsica did not experience the surge in economic prosperity enjoyed by most European countries in the postwar period, a disappointment made particularly acute when rich foreigners visited the island. The tourism industry is not the unqualified boon for native Corsicans that it might seem. Run largely by the French, it offers only a few menial jobs to the native population, whose opportunities for employment are so poor that young people leave en masse. (Many Corsican families have more members living abroad than on the island.) The unregulated building of hotels by French contractors which accompanied the growth of tourism ruined many beautiful sites. Flooded by emigres—particularly pieds noirs from the former colony in Algeria—Corsica has seen much of her best farmland and vineyards bought up. French officialdom has shown contempt for the distinct culture of the island, refusing to allow a Corse university founded in the 19th century to reopen its doors and discouraging Corsicans from speaking their own language. “As in Brittany or the Basque country,” Ramsay relates, “children had been punished for the use of any language but French in the classroom.”

To the policy elite of Europe, nationalism of the Corsican stripe may seem little more than a curious anomaly. But like its counterparts in other countries, it is a predictable response to the encroachments of European integration and federal power.