Did campaign that played to the far right trigger actions of killer?
The horrific school killings in Toulouse fell like a bombshell on the French presidential election campaign.
Was it just a coincidence that the murders – and the probably related killings of three soldiers of North African origin last week – occurred five weeks before the first round of the election? Were they somehow aimed at the French state itself? Or driven by issues within the campaign?
Only one mainstream politician had the courage to make the connection publicly. Corinne Lepage, a former centre-right Environment Minister, suggested in a tweet that the divisive themes of immigration and national identity raised in recent weeks by President Nicolas Sarkozy might, unwittingly, have triggered the actions of a "madman".
"A madman? Maybe," she tweeted. "But the unpleasant political climate and hatred can excite people."
All mainstream candidates suspended their campaigns. President Sarkozy, his main challenger, the Socialist candidate François Hollande, and the centrist candidate, François Bayrou, flew to Toulouse to pay their respects to the victims.
The President, in a successful bid to close the first-round poll gap with Mr Hollande, has stolen the clothes of the hard-right National Front. Even the generally conservative Wall Street Journal was moved last week to dub him "Nicolas Le Pen". The President suggested that the non-labelling of halal meat was the "most talked-about issue in France" and suggested that there were "too many foreigners" in the country.
If yesterday's attacks turn out – as they may – to be the work of an Islamist extremist, Mr Sarkozy's camp will not try, overtly, to make political capital from the tragedy. But they will no doubt hope, and expect, that it will steer the election their way.
The anti-racist pressure group SOS Racism is convinced that the killings were the work of an ultra- right, racist extremist. If so, Mr Sarkozy's brand of campaigning may abruptly lose its appeal.
Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart bromance continues: X-Men star gushes about 'pussy cat' BFF Patrick Stewart
David Cameron stung by jellyfish: PM hurt after ignoring advice of locals while on holiday
South Korea ferry: Vice principal rescued from sinking ship found hanged
Hollande's affair: Catherine Deneuve and Sophie Marceau in war of words over President's relationship with Julie Gayet
Kim Jong-un, crowds and contraband kit: Inside North Korea with the the Pyongyang marathon winner
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
Refugee facing deportation from Sweden saved by fellow passengers refusing to let plane leave
- 1 KFC 'sorry' after lesbian couple are kicked out of Bath restaurant for 'heavy petting'
- 2 Dylan Tombides: West Ham confirm 20-year-old striker has died after battle with cancer
- 3 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
- 4 'Sinful': Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy comes under attack
- 5 PFA Player of the Year: Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard all nominated as Liverpool dominate award shortlist
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...
£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...