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President Sarkozy Maneuvers to Benefit From Toulouse Violence

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Posted on Mar 25, 2012
AP / Jacques Brinon

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, center, pays homage to the Toulouse shooting victims.

By Barry Lando

Even before Mohammed Merah—a 23-year-old French punk and part-time garage mechanic turned jihadist—died in a hail of bullets in Toulouse, the horrific affair had already become the focus of France’s heated presidential campaign.

No one benefited more from the crisis than President Nicolas Sarkozy, for whom law and order has always been a calling card. But after acting admirably presidential during the most ghastly moments of the crisis, calling for national unity and a temporary halt to electioneering, once Merah had been disposed of Sarkozy abruptly reverted to the erratic manner that has also been his hallmark over the years.

He announced his intention to present legislation to the French Parliament that would make it a crime for people to travel abroad for terrorist indoctrination or consult jihadist websites.

Predictably, Sarkozy’s tough proposal immediately drew fire from a wide range of critics.

As I argued in a Daily Beast post, Sarkozy’s proposals are precipitous, and, above all, a dangerous threat to French civil liberties. Punishing people who—for whatever reason—choose to read the contents of certain proscribed Internet sites, would, in effect, oblige France to create a new category of law enforcers very much akin to the Thought Police so terrifyingly portrayed by George Orwell in “1984.”

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France already has enough laws on the books to deal with the terrorist threat without crippling its democratic traditions.

Another tack taken by Sarkozy, this time to hobble his opponents on the left, is to wrap himself in the national flag and maintain—as Sarkozy immediately did—that it is despicable for anyone to blame French society for the outrageous actions of Merah and the obscene rampage in Toulouse.

Sarkozy’s challenge is a blatant attempt to sweep France’s enormous social problems—particularly the integration of the country’s 5 to 6 million immigrants of Islamic origin—under the carpet, at least during the election campaign. It was also a bet that the French, outraged by the events of the past few days, would turn against any attempts by Sarkozy’s opponents to take up the issue of integration at this time.

Indeed Sarkozy’s theme was immediately amplified by four deputies from his Union for a Popular Movement party who called for revision of the French Code of Nationality. They’re after regulations that would make it easier to dispatch the hordes of delinquents and troublemakers in the banlieues (working-class suburbs), like Merah, (“scum,” Sarkozy once famously called them) back to the lands of their forefathers.

After all, the UMP deputies argue, the only thing about Merah “that was French were his identity papers.”

The statement is absurd. As the leftist Libération editorialized recently, “Merah is certainly a monster, but a French monster and monsters also reveal the fabric of a country. For how many generations can a child born French be sent back to his Algerian origins, and for how many generations will the origin of his ancestors make him a foreigner in the country that is his?”

For further background, readers might be interested in other blogs I’ve written over the past few days on Merah and the slaughter in Toulouse.

Barry M. Lando spent 25 years as an award-winning investigative producer with “60 Minutes.” He has produced numerous articles, a documentary and a book, “Web of Deceit,” about Iraq. Lando is just finishing a novel, “The Watchman’s File.”


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By diamond, March 30, 2012 at 2:49 pm Link to this comment

“Josephine forgets that Kandahar in Afghanistan was headquarters to the al Qaeda movement when the Taliban were in power. She also has fogot already the murderous way women were treated there under the Taliban regime.”

Nonsense, Lafayette.

‘Washington’s favoured mujaheddin faction was one of the most extreme, led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. The West’s distaste for terrorism did not apply to this unsavoury “freedom fighter”. Hekmatyar was notorious in the 1970s for throwing acid in the faces of women who refused to wear the veil.

After the Mujaheddin took Kabul in 1992, Hekmatyar’s forces rained US-supplied missiles and rockets on that city — killing at least 2000 civilians — until the new government agreed to give him the post of prime minister. Osama bin Laden was a close associate of Hekmatyar and his faction.
Hekmatyar was also infamous for his side trade in the cultivation and trafficking in opium. Backing of the mujaheddin from the CIA coincided with a boom in the drug business. Within two years, the Afghanistan-Pakistan border was the world’s single largest source of heroin, supplying 60% of US drug users.’ (Norm Dixon, Green Left Weekly, 19th September 2001”

Al Qaeda is an invention of the CIA and the only truth Sarkozy has spoken about Toulouse is that it is France’s 9/11. THAT is true in the sense that it bears all of the hallmarks of intelligence services involvement. Sarkozy is playing the ‘terrorism’ card for all its worth because he’s run out of cards and only has that card left. He still thinks he can turn France into an exact duplicate of the free market mess that America now is and he is willing to do anything to continue ‘the work’.

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Lafayette's avatar

By Lafayette, March 28, 2012 at 2:29 am Link to this comment

JOSEPHINE FORGETS

Josephine: ... would Sarkozy not have followed the US in their absurd war in Afghanistan (not talking of Libya), the Toulouse events would not have occured.

This is not an obvious conclusion.

Josephine forgets that Kandahar in Afghanistan was headquarters to the al Qaeda movement when the Taliban were in power. She also has fogot already the murderous way women were treated there under the Taliban regime.

Iraq was the worng-war. Afghanistan was the Right War - and the US botched both.

But should Afghanistan fall back into the hands of the Taliban, Josephine will once again be fearful of taking the Paris Metro - where bombings by Islamic Fundamentalists caused numerous deaths and injuries.

Has Josephine forgot those times so quickly? Is she prepared, after the events in Toulouse, to see them coming back?

I’m not ... I live in France. And I make no excuses for my POV.

MAY POINT?

Marechal Petain:

The best defense is to attack.

Not that I am a fan of the Marechal, who was found guilty of collaborating with the Nazis. But, as an Army officer, his above statement was correct.

We shall see, therefore, if the Afghan Army is prepared to keep up the pressure on the Taliban. I doubt it, frankly, and so does most of the American Army presently stationed there.

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By heterochromatic, March 26, 2012 at 11:06 am Link to this comment

Josephine——would Sarkozy not have followed the US in
their absurd war in Afghanistan (not talking of Libya),
the Toulouse events would not have occured.
————


you have some evidence for that assertion?


and BTW, it was long before Sarkozy took office that France joined the
operations in Afghanistan.

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By Josephine, March 26, 2012 at 4:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr Lando: would Sarkozy not have followed the US in
their absurd war in Afghanistan (not talking of Libya),
the Toulouse events would not have occured. You missed
that point, it would seem.  The resulting tension for
young Frenche muslims is extreme, which is not an
excuse for Merah, obviously, but a factor.

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Lafayette's avatar

By Lafayette, March 25, 2012 at 4:54 pm Link to this comment

BL: Sarkozy’s challenge is a blatant attempt to sweep France’s enormous social problems—particularly the integration of the country’s 5 to 6 million immigrants of Islamic origin—under the carpet, at least during the election campaign.

And who, pray tell, in Europe is doing any better?

Did you know, BL, that France is the ONLY European country to forbid the identification of ethnic origin for any reason whatsoever?

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By heterochromatic, March 25, 2012 at 4:02 pm Link to this comment

third column…each one worse than the previous. none
of them doing anything but seeking to exploit this
thing to advance Lando’s own agenda.

that a politician in the midst of a re-election
campaign would seek political gain from the aftermath
of this thing…...I’m shocked. shocked.

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