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.