Halt in French Election at Gun Point


After a 10 day rampaige by a gunmen who is now known to be Mohamed Merah, taking place in south-western France, a sniper was finally able to take him down in Toulouse. Merah was a 23-year-old unemployed Frenchmen, who was a convicted juvenile delinquent, and confessed to police that he trained in Pakistan with al-Qaeda. Although he has been under surveillance for years now, it did not stop him from killing four French soldiers, three children and a rabbi at a Jewish school. Among many other questions, a big one is, how could this have happened even though a close eye was on Merah? With this happening just a month before the first round of the presidential elections, people want answers, and they want them now.

The way the candidates and current president, Nicolas Sarkozy who is running for a second term, reacted to this crisis was crucial in regards to their campaign. Sarkozy personally visited Toulouse to extend his condolences to the families of the diseased. Coming in roughly second in the polls as of now, Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande, suspended his campaign as well as Marine Le Pen, who is a far-right candidate. However, Le Pen was the first to retract the halt of her campaign, which naturally met with negative feedback. Francois Bayrou, who is currently ranked in fourth place, did not suspend his campaign, and instead attacked his fellow candidates about their anti-immigrant stance and comments that were made in the past. Although Sarkozy took a strong stance on trying to keep the flow of immigrants into France to a minimal, there are millions of immigrants that make up their population.

Peter Wilkinson from CNN wrote on March 22nd:

“Sarkozy must tread warily: a year ago he oversaw the ban on Islamic veils in public but he is aware there are six million Muslims in France, Half of them from North African former colonies, and he is careful to say few of them are radical.”

As of now, Sarkozy has a slight boost in his campaign because of the recent shootings because the way he has handled the situation. Although, Wilkinson writes, “The crisis could yet have a negative effect on Sarkozy though, with the far-right saying that the government had failed to protect French people from Islamic fundamentalists.” Also the question which was brought up by his fellow socialist candidates, why did it take more than 30 hours to kill the gunmen? This and other questions like it can have a negative effect in the long run for the current president’s campaign.

When is comes down to it, this tragedy that has changed the lives of many people for the worse, has been reduced to a political move for the current president and potential candidates. Yes, it is true that it does matter how these people who may be running the country of France react in times of crisis such as this. However, it is disrespectful to the families of the people who were lost in this disaster when they use this situation to make political gain or negative jabs at opponents. Even though this may sway the peoples vote and outlook on the current candidates, there are still other huge issues at hand such ad the economic crisis and unemployment rates.

By: Crystal Blankenbaker, Irina Czakó, Ksenia Solovyova and  Juliana Milanesio

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