French killer targets Jews and Africans

Submitted by Matthew on 21 March, 2012 - 9:03

Between 11 and 19 March 2012 a lone gunman shot dead three soldiers, three children and a teacher in the Toulouse region of France.

Two of the soldiers were of North African descent and the third was from Guadeloupe; the teacher and children were Jewish, killed when the gun man randomly fired at crowds outside their Jewish school.

The killer – it is almost certainly the same killer — is still at large. We only know that he appeared to target his victims and plan the killings carefully.

We don’t know the exact motivation for these horrific killings but the possibility that this is the act of a French fascist should be taken seriously.

In 2008, three members of the military unit that the murdered soldiers belonged to, the 17th RCG parachutists, were found to be part of a neo-nazi group and were kicked out.

Far-right infiltration in the French army is not new. Fascist groups have a long history of involvement with the French military.

In 1961 the Organisation of the Secret Army (OAS) was founded to fight against Algerian independence.

Racist, colonialist sentiment was rife in the French establishment. In the same year riot police killed between 100 and 300 Algerian demonstrators in Paris, throwing the bodies into the Seine.

Since then for the French far right, ranging from large organisations like the Front National to small paramilitary ultra-right groups like Action Francaise, the natural territory has been military types, the countryside, and depressed white working-class communities.

The organised far right feeds into and feeds off establishment racism. Sarkozy, like his hero Thatcher, has always been conscious of using the politics of “identity” and nationalism to steal votes from the Front National to boost himself.

Sarkozy has given speeches calling the Catholic Church a better guardian of “morality” than the state. In 2010 he embarked upon a brutal mass deportation of Roma gypsies, an act without precedent in France since the deportation of Jews in World War 2.

As the 2012 election campaign has heated up, the FN appear to be leading Sarkozy by the nose. Sarkozy gave an interview in which he declared that the number one issue of concern facing French people was the use of halal meat in their children’s school dinners.

His minister Claude Guéant has warned against the anti-French influence of allowing foreign nationals to vote in local elections.

The increase in mainstream politicians’ use of racist tropes in response to the unrest caused by the crisis has given a new lease of life to the far right across Europe.

Given such power-hungry cynicism from capitalist politicians, can it come as a surprise that the fascists might take heart?

If the labour movement does not fight to dispel the nationalist, racist response to the crisis, further racist violence is almost certain.


Submitted by Matthew on Wed, 21/03/2012 - 09:08

It now appears that the gunman is an Islamist, motivated according to the French government to attack a Jewish school and army base in order "to avenge Palestinian children and to attack the French army because of its foreign interventions." I would guess that, like the French fascists, he also a problem with soldiers of Muslim/North African origin serving in the French Army.

Submitted by guenter on Thu, 22/03/2012 - 14:15

....that this guy himself once tried to join the french army, but was rejected. seems, that for some it doesnt matter, if they kill for the islam or for the rench army or some1 from the french army- such personalities are into all this military things, and then they search an army 4 themselves, and if there is none, they fire around on their own
if it once had worked out to join the french army, he might nowadays as well have been a celebrated hero of them.

Submitted by Yves Coleman on Fri, 23/03/2012 - 16:34

Instead of attacking the SWP's article you should first question yourself why you did not target ANTISEMITISM's underestimation in France, this week, in your article.

I wrote two articles about similar blindness in front of antisemitism on anarchist forums, articles which you can read in French on, on the 19th and 20th of March. I wrote them before knowing the identity and politics of the killer and I'll write a longer article in English soon for Dutch comrades trying to make a balance of this week.

If you had read what Leftwing websites readers (like Indymedia, Rue 89, Nouvel Observateur, etc.) where saying Monday and Tuesday this week you could have guessed that the dominating tendency among the Left (radical or liberal) was to confuse everything, exactly like Ed's article, and to choose as a major target the Far Right.

Ted quotes the OAS and French fascists but forgets to say that the pro-colonialist Far Right never killed the Vietnamese or Algerian or African soldiers who were fighting IN THE RANKS of the French Army.
In their books of memories all old officers of the French colonial armies hail the courage of their African, Arab or Asian soldiers.... They did not want at all to kill them, they wanted them to torture and kill the independentist militants and guerilleros, which is not exactly the same.

The 90 000 "harkis" (Algerians who fought with the French Army during the Algerian war and fled with their families to France after the independence if they were not killed by the Algerian NLF) vote for the National Front, which you probably consider as a fascist party.

A fact which ruins Ed's hypothesis, specially in the South of France (where Toulouse is located) a region which combines a concentration of harkis, paratroopers, National Front voters and other far-right extremists.

Today the French police recruits more and more people who have one or two Arab, Berber of Black African parents. The racism of Gallo-French cops is directed much more against Arab or African civilians (legal or illegal workers, and African-French or Arab-French people) than against their Black or Arab colleagues inside the police forces (racism exists also inside the French police of course, but it's much more violent against normal citizens). For this Sarkozy and his government are certainly guilty, but not for antisemitism !

This is not the first time that the French Left puts the blame on the Far Right when Palestinians or socalled sympathizers of the Palestinian cause kill Jews in France: it's exactly what happened after the attacks againt Copernic's synagogue (3 octobre 1980, 4 people Killed) and Goldenberg's restaurant, rue des Rosiers (6 people killed on the 9th August of 1982).

Once more, this week, the French Left and Far Left have been paralyzed or blind, and this even before knowing the identity of the killer, and they did not clearly condemn this attack as an antisemitic attack.

They went even so far as accusing (as Ed more or less does) Sarkozy and the Right wing to be responsible of the "climate of hate" which explains why Mohammed killed 3 Jewish children. The only problem with this very bad argument is that it does not apply at all to French Jews. If you had heard the French Jewish radios these last four days, you would have discovered the journalists and the leaders of the French Jewish institutions were SUPPORTING SARKOZY and his government 24h/24, the actions of the police, his racist Police minister Guéant (anti-Rom and anti-Arab, but certainly not anti-Jewish).

Reality is always more complex than our political schemes. We should never forget that.

I disagree on many many points with the AWL but at least on one point we used to agree: we both criticize left antisemitism. But unfortunately this sensibility to a vicious disease inside the Left did not prevent you to fall iton the same trap as the SWP you denounce so loudly... I can only hope you will be more cautious, next time, and show more explicit solidarity with the Jewish victims than you did this week.

PS. The mention of the discussion about "halal food" in France in your article is even more absurd when one knows the religion of the killer and of 2 of the 3 people he killed... Unless you want to explain this terrorist attack away like the SWP does or like Mohamed Rezah did quoting the law against hijab as one of his motives !

Submitted by guenter on Fri, 23/03/2012 - 20:08

Iam afraid that this time i have to agree with yves coleman- with whom i disagreed sharply about his pro-anarchist article.
Actually, on an article about male sex workers, i once tried to develope the AWL´s viewpoint on islamism further- trying to explain the islamic psychology and the type of personality it does create. Unfortunately the discussion didnt went far, cause my discussion partner dan didnt know what to say, promised an later answer and in the end wrongly blamed me for an abuse (he couldnt show one)- the usually silly habitt of some AWL-guys here; so an mighty important discussion cudnt take place.

when ives says, that even the far-right militarists never killed the foreign soldiers who fought in their ranks of the french army, he shows an significant difference between islamic mentality and the "rest" of the world.
the antisemitism of islamists isnt only feed by the israel-palestine conflict,but religion-inherent, and to mention crimes of the french army are only the killers excuses - not long before this, the killer himself tried to join the french army, as i already said above.

Submitted by AWL on Fri, 23/03/2012 - 20:53


I'm going to re-read your analysis tomorrow and attempt to digest it properly, but until then one quick point: your PS about Sarkozy's halal food comments seems off the mark, since Ed didn't know that the attack was carried out by an Islamist; he wasn't justifying or explaining Islamist violence as a response to such anti-Muslim agitation, but pointing out how conservative anti-Muslim agitation can help feed the far right. Surely quite distinct?

Sacha Ismail

Submitted by guenter on Fri, 23/03/2012 - 23:22

how conservative anti-Muslim agitation can help feed the far right. (sacha)

yes, but often its also the other way around- "how reactionist islamist actions do feed the far right with new reasons for agitation".
here, the islamist did his terror very short b4 the date of the presidental election, and promptly Sarkozy does rise up in the opinion polls- as probably le pen also and all rightwing and law-and-order politicians too.
Most of the time yet, islamist actions happened b4 such critical dates, where they always played into the hands of the national rightwingers then. So whether this islamist idiots dont have the slightest political understanding (that their actions will always and only feed the antimuslim and rascist forces) or it doesnt matter to them, cause they cant think in terms as "connect the international working class". they wanna die as martyrers and go to paradise and thats it.

Thats no political thinking at all. And thats why all those on the far left always have been horribly wrong, who tried to see something "anti-imperialist" in actions as 9/11. What I say was clear to me since the afghan mudjahedin fought the "communist" govtm and the idiotic west who supported mudhjahedin, taliban and so on, thought this was a genuine fight against "communism" : it was a fight against woman been sending to school (thats why teachers, send to villages for alphabetical campaigns, got murdered)- a fight they would had fought with any non-"communist" but pro-western govtm also; a fight against any1 who tried to send girls to school; a fought against civilisation and "modernism" as such, whether in western, russian or whatever non-islamic form.

Submitted by edwardm on Sat, 24/03/2012 - 00:16

Yves -

I accept the point about how the French far right are less hostile to black soldiers than they are to black civilians: I should have taken that into account.

When I wrote the article, we did not know who the killer was - or much about who it might be beyond his choice of victims and level of organisation. Without wishing to speculate on the stuff we couldn't know, I thought that it was reasonable to take the possibility seriously that the killer was a fascist because white fascism and racism are generally bigger problems in Europe than organised Islamism. I also didn't want to focus exclusively on the anti-semitic angle of the killings, because three of the seven victims were not Jewish.

Given what we knew when we went to press, it was hardly absurd to judge that a discussion of fascism and mainstream racism - and the relationship between the two - was relevant in an article about racist killings in France. Hence the point about Halal meat - the FN are dictating policy positions to Sarkozy (and hysteria about Halal meat is also implicitly hysteria about Kosher meat).

What I find bizarre about your comment is the implication that, by focussing on white fascism rather than Islamism, we are somehow guilty of a dereliction of solidarity with Jewish victims of racism! Or that we are somehow soft on anti-semitism because we recognised that Merah's victims were Jewish, North African and Antillean and not just Jewish. Would it have been better to focus only on the Jewish victims? Would it be showing more solidarity with Jews to presume from the outset that the killer was an Islamist? Clearly not. So why reproach us for not showing enough solidarity with Jewish people?

Now, I agree that if anyone on the left blames Sarkozy for Merah's political decision to go out and kill Jews, they would be foolish. Merah did what he did because of the political programme of Islamism; it would be wrong, reductionist and euro-centric to say that the motivations of far-right Islamists are provided by European government racism, rather than by their own ideas.

But does my article "more or less" blame Sarkozy for Merah's actions? No - it says, based on the knowledge we had at the beginning of the week (ie before we knew who the culprit was), that we should take the possibility of the killer being a white fascist seriously.

I accept the factual clarification about the nature of French fascism vis a vis harkis and black police officers, and I look forward to reading your articles; but you would do well to look a bit more carefully before flying off the handlebars in future.

Submitted by Yves Coleman on Sat, 24/03/2012 - 08:09

Dear Ed, I understand it's difficult to write when one has not all the infos at one's disposal and lives in another country. Nevertheless I was like you the 19th of March and did not know anything about the identity of the killer. Therefore I chose to write about what was obvious: the antisemiticism of the killer, antisemiticism which was underestimated by the Left and Far Left, a tradition in France.
The title of your article implied the attacks were led against Africans and Arabs as Africans and Arabs (so it was automatically racist in general), forgetting they were wearing a uniform ; this fact introduced an element of complexity which could not be dealt with referring only to their ethnic origin as you did, and other people did in France.
Also you wrote about Merah "the gun man randomly fired at crowds outside their Jewish school" which was not true and gave a totally wrong impression about the motivations of the killer. Merah carefully killed the adult and the 3 children and took his time to kill the little girl. And this was known from the very first minute, at least in France.
The fact of deliberately killing Jewish children has a very strong symbolic meaning. It looked strange to me that you did not see what kind of people focus on killing Jewish children.
That explains maybe what you consider as my over-reaction.
But I can tell you a lot of non militant people "over-reacted" to the fact Merah killed children, and specially Jewish children.

Submitted by guenter on Sun, 25/03/2012 - 20:30

although not connecting to my postings, solomon said something very similar than i did: he did hint to an islam-inherent type of rascism.
by considering any not-muslim as "infidel" (so, some1 u can lie to or cheat or kill, as the quoran says), any1 else is excluded or discriminated.
thats why islamists as the french killer even then cant be seen as innocent victims of rascism, if they had personal experience with rascism. cause such an person is an rightwinger or fascist himself, and as solomon said, all rightwingers in all communities must be opposed.

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