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'It's us or them,' France's Fillon says of fight against "Islamist totalitarianism"

Francois Fillon, member of the Republicans political party and 2017 French presidential election candidate of the French centre-right, attends the France 2 television special prime time political show, "15min to Convince" in Saint-Cloud, near Paris, France, April 20, 2017. REUTERS/Martin Bureau/Pool

PARIS (Reuters) - Conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon on Friday said the fight against “Islamist totalitarianism” should be the priority of France’s next president.

Seizing on Thursday night’s killing of a police officer in an attack claimed by Islamic State, Fillon, who is lagging in opinion polls behind centrist Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen of the far right, told reporters:

“This battle for the freedom and security of the French must be the priority of the next government. It will require an unyielding determination and a cool head.”

“Radical Islam is challenging our values and our strength of character.”

Fillon, who has been campaigning on a hardline security platform, said: “We are at war, there is no alternative, it’s us or them.”

He added that the priority of his foreign policy would be to “destroy Islamic State.”

Reporting by Ingrid Melander and Sophie Louet; Editing by Richard Balmforth