Merah killings raise tough questions for France about integration


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The killings in Toulouse last week Wednesday by Mohamed Merah, 23, described as “polite and shy” by neighbours, but who then went on to become radicalised in Afghanistan, once again raises the issue of integration and immigration in France.

Mohamed-MerahMerah seemed like an ordinary, young guy who liked clubbing, football and cars – yet went on to to become one of France’s notorious killers.

Merah’s irreprehensible actions, the worst terror France has seen in 15 years, were deliberately targeted: four soldiers, three Jewish children and a Rabbi were murdered by Merah.

A man claiming to be Merah called the popular news station France 24 whilst being held at ransom within his apartment at 1am on Wednesday March 21st and said his actions were directed against France’s military presence in Afghanistan, the killing of Palestinians and the ban on wearing the full face veil, although it would seem such extreme actions would have a deeper agenda, with others also responsible, especially as Merah stated he was working with a group allied to al-Qa’eda.

Once again he was described as articulate and polite by the senior news editor, Ebba Kalondo.

The shootings have once again brought race and immigration issues to the fore. Nicolas Sarkozy, along with other major presidential candidates, rightly suspended their campaigns. Now back on the campaign trial, with one month till polling day, Sarkozy looks tougher on policing and security – his strongest areas – and his lead against Socialist rival François Hollande has narrowed since the incident.

Sarkozy pledged to introduce new legislation to make it a crime to look at websites encouraging terrorism and to travel specifically for the purposes of terrorism training. This shooting may remind French citizens of an incident that happened in 1993, where Sarkozy, as Mayor of Neuilly-sur-Seine, dealt with an assailant, who took children hostage in a nursery and led a number of children out after successfully negotiating their release.

The next few weeks will reveal how the Front National will further seek to exploit the actions of Merah; they will likely say this proves their claim that immigration is dangerous for France.

Marine Le Pen claimed:

“The risk of fundamentalism has been under-estimated in our country.”

With Sarkozy promptly hitting back by saying the attack on French institutions and politics was unfair.

 


See also:

Sarkozy v Hollande: French presidential race hots up 14 Mar 2012

Desperate Sarkozy cranks up the anti-immigration rhetoric 14 Mar 2012

Le Pen’s fascists claim French youngsters are ‘joining in their droves’ 28 Feb 2012

Why we should worry about the poison of Le Pe 17 Feb 2012

Is François Hollande the next president of France? 9 Feb 2012


 

Terrorist acts are rare, but a real threat to the national security of France. Merah, when speaking to France 24, said it was only the beginning. It is unlikely the major presidential candidates will choose to use this tragedy for political gain, however a growing security dilemma faces them and it will take skill and wit to come up with a comprehensive answer of how to face it.

 


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  • Anonymous

    Le Pen would know all about fundamentalism.

    And no, isolated shooters for all the headlines they produce are not a national security threat. That’s the type of hype I’d expect from a right-wing site. Neither is the right response to crack down on civil liberties – increasing funding for the services which actually prevent organisation of attacks (that would be the intelligence services) is appropriate.

    Issues like the full-face veil ban have created a LOT of tension within French society, they’re exclusionary policies. The *increased* wearing of it among certain communities underlines how it’s the politics of division.

  • Mr. Sensible

    You don’t solve things like this by learching to the right.

  • Tokyo Nambu

    What on earth does “irreprehensible” mean?

  • Albert

    Yes you do.

  • Anonymous

    If you want repeats, absolutely.

  • Alec

    Or, for that matter, what does “A man claiming to be Merah called the popular news station France 24 whilst being held at ransom within his apartment at 1am on Wednesday March 21st” mean? From this end it looks as if the French commandos are being presented as the aggressors, and not the individual who just gunned-down three children under the age of nine, one Rabbi and three soldiers.

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