Toulouse ter­ror re­shap­ing the French elec­tion

The Jewish Chronicle - - World News - BY ANSHEL PF­EF­FER

LAST MONTH’S at­tacks in which a ji­hadist shot four peo­ple at a Jewish school in Toulouse have changed the fo­cus and, quite pos­si­bly, the out­come of the French pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Mo­hamed Merah, who also shot three sol­diers in a sep­a­rate at­tack and was killed fol­low­ing a 32-hour siege, had only one al­leged col­lab­o­ra­tor — his brother.

How­ever, Merah’s cam­paign of ter­ror has al­lowed Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Sarkozy to shift vot­ers’ at­ten­tion to the threat of Is­lamist ter­ror and away from France’s eco­nomic trou­bles ahead of the pres­i­den­tial elec­tions.

Last week, po­lice ar­rested 19 Is­lamists who they now be­lieve were plan­ning to kid­na­pa­jew­ish­judgein­lyon.whilethe ar­rests did not have any di­rect con­nec­tion to the Merah at­tacks, they al­lowed Mr Sarkozy to con­tinue em­pha­sis­ing se­cu­rity is­sues. On the day of the ar­rests he gave in­ter­views stress­ing “our duty to guar­an­tee the se­cu­rity of the French peo­ple”.

While­his­main­ri­vals­forthep­res­i­dency are not op­posed to tough mea­sures against ter­ror, the Pres­i­dent’s con­trol of the state se­cu­rity ap­pa­ra­tus al­lows him a near mo­nop­oly of the air­waves dur­ing any se­cu­rity-re­lated de­vel­op­ment and has de­nied other par­ties time to at­tack Mr Sarkozy’s on is­sues such as the poor state of econ­omy.

The is­sue of where Merah would be buried af­ter the at­tack and the gov­ern­ment’s ban on rad­i­cal Is­lamic preach­ers from en­ter­ing France this month have all dom­i­nated the head­lines.

Just three weeks ago, most polls had Mr Sarkozy trail­ing his main ri­val, the So­cial­ist Fran­cois Hol­lande, in the first round and los­ing to him in run-off by a dou­ble-digit mar­gin. Now it is Mr Sarkozy who is pro­jected to win the first round while Mr Hol­lande’s lead in the run-off is rapidly shrink­ing.

PHOTO:AP

The head­line-dom­i­nat­ing de­bate about ter­ror has boosted Sarkozy

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