Nabila Ramdani writes: When young children are murdered by point-blank shots to the head, it is very difficult to draw conclusions about anything, let alone religion. The crimes Mohammed Merah has apparently confessed to are unimaginably wicked. French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, summed them up with the blunt relish of a newspaper headline writer, describing the 23-year-old killer as a “monster” who represented nothing and nobody.
However, such interpretations of what has happened in the Toulouse area over the past 10 days won’t last long. Far-right politicians have already seized on the image of the lethal young Muslim from an Algerian immigrant background. The National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who is on course to win up to 20% of the popular vote in the presidential elections beginning next month, said it was time to “launch a war” against a “fundamentalist risk which has been underestimated in our country”.
Le Pen has highlighted the fact that Merah had a French passport and was born and brought up at the expense of the republic. Even after he escaped from an Afghan prison where he was held for planting Taliban bombs, he was able to return to a council flat in Toulouse. “Homegrown” Islamic terrorists are the ultimate bogeymen for rabble-rousing politicians, and there is absolutely no doubt that the National Front’s share of the vote will increase because of this outrage.