Daily Archives: March 21, 2012

Esther Bintliff

Members of the Jewish community of Paris light candles on Place de la Bastille as they attend a silent march to pay tribute to the victims of the Toulouse school shooting. Franck Prevel/Getty Images

Members of the Jewish community of Paris light candles on Place de la Bastille as they attend a silent march to pay tribute to the victims of the Toulouse school shooting. Photo: Franck Prevel/Getty Images

On Wednesday, as French police surrounded a building in Toulouse where the suspect in the shooting of seven people was holed up, details of his background began to emerge.  A 23-year-old French citizen of Algerian descent, the man was known by investigators to have visited Afghanistan and Pakistan. He claimed to belong to al-Qaeda, and told police he had wanted revenge for Palestinian children, for French military involvement in Afghanistan and the decision of France to ban the wearing of burkas by women.

Many questions remain unanswered. But it is clear that, like the 7/7 attack in London, the 2004 train bombings in Madrid and last year’s attacks in Norway by the far-right killer Anders Behring Breivik,  France’s motorcycle shootings will prompt great soul-searching across the country’s politics and society. Read more

Gideon Rachman

Yesterday the FT opinion desk was offered a piece from a prominent French commentator, attacking President Sarkozy for having helped to create a climate of intolerance in France. A decision was made not to run it, on the grounds that we didn’t yet know who was responsible for the killings in Toulouse and Montauban. It was not yet clear that this was the work of right-wing extremists.

The rush to judgement was not confined to the French left. Also yesterday I heard a strange piece on the BBC’s “Today” programme (compulsory listening for the British middle-classes), where once again the premise of the discussion was that the killer of the French soldiers and the Jewish school-children was likely to be a right-wing extremist. This also struck me as very premature.

And so it seems. As I write the French police are surrounding the house of the chief suspect, who appears to have been an al-Qaeda member or sympathiserRead more