Toulouse shooting and the French election

France has been gripped by horror this week. The gruesome shooting of three children and a teacher was followed by a tense and ultimately deadly standoff. The Toulouse killer said he wanted to bring France to its knees. He came nowhere near reaching that goal. But his crimes may bring voters to the ballot box dragging anger and fear. With elections just weeks away, explosive issues dominate the French presidential campaign. Today we explore the new political landscape.

Today's guest host was Alison Smith.

Part One of The Current


It's Friday, March 23rd.

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This is The Current.

Toulouse shooting and the French election - Bruno Jeanbart

Toulouse France, known to the world as Le Ville Rose for its pink architecture, was stained red this week. A rabbi and three Jewish children were murdered, along with three paratroopers - two of them Muslim - in a separate incident.

Mohamed Merah, a Frenchman of Algerian descent, and a self-described al-Qaeda operative, is thought to be the killer of all seven. Anyone with a heart can feel France's pain. But the French wrestle with other feelings as well: confusion ... fury ... fear.

Jewish and Muslim community leaders are anxious that the crimes not become political issues. But with a presidential campaign underway, an uneasy electorate wants to hear from its politicians.

But French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been in an expansive mood. A few weeks before the shooting, Sarkozy suggested France wasn't big enough. He claimed France had too many foreigners and no way to employ, educate or or even house them all. It's a position typically staked out by the extreme right in France. Marine La Pen leads the extreme right National Front Party. Even before police had cornered and killed the presumed murderer, she renewed her call for tougher immigration and security laws

And that is the kind of view that some French believe may gain currency following the killings. Bruno Jeanbart is the deputy director at Opinion Way, a French polling company. He was in Paris.

Toulouse shooting and the French election - Nabila Ramdani

We also spoke with Nabila Ramdani. She is a French journalist of Algerian descent and she was in London this morning.

This segment was produced by The Current's Josh Bloch, Shannon Higgins, Pedro Sanchez and Alisha Parchment.

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