The man who allegedly claimed to be responsible for the recent killings in France, Mohamed Merah, is dead after a stand off with police in the French city of Toulouse which began yesterday, Wednesday.
The tragic slaying of Jewish children and a rabbi following the killing of three French soldiers—of Caribbean or North African descent—has sent shockwaves through French society.
French president Nicholas Sarkozy will use the killings for political gain. He has leaned heavily on racist rhetoric in a desperate attempt to win the upcoming election.
In the past few weeks he has called immigration “a problem” and that tightening border controls was the “only way to avoid the implosion of Europe”. He also claimed that non-Muslims were secretly being fed halal meat across France.
And the right wing press is already cashing in on the tragedy, with the Figaro newspaper using its editorial to say that the killings justify all of Sarkozy’s racist policies—from banning face veils for Muslim women to denying foreigners the vote.
Racism feeds terrorism. This tragedy is the bitter fruit of French domestic and foreign policy. Merah claimed that he committed the murders to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children, and against the ban on the headscarf in schools, as well as France’s role in the occupation of Afghanistan.
Many in France reject Sarkozy’s agenda of racism and division. The NPA, the French anti-capitalist party, released a statement saying, “Nothing can justify such an unbearable affair. But we do not add our voices to those who try to use these dramatic events to stigmatise a whole community. The Muslims of France have nothing to do with what has happened.
The statement goes on to say, “We are on guard against any political utilisation of this criminal act at a period when a racist climate is developing.”
For a full analysis of the political situation in France see next week’s Socialist Worker