French police are presently surrounding the house of a man of French-Algerian origin in Toulouse. His name is apparently “Mohammed” and his brother has already been arrested. There is some concern that he may have explosives and might blow up the building in which he is holed up. Shots have been fired.
Mr Gueant said. “This person has made trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan in the past … and says he belongs to Al-Qaeda and says he wanted to avenge Palestinian children and to attack the French army.”
So, not a neo Nazi, not a French Breivik after all.
On Monday, the Guardian published an article by Fiachra Gibbons, formerly the Comment Editor of that newspaper. This is what he had to say:
Over the past few years of recession and regression, it has become a trite truism of European politics that you can’t go wrong going to the right. Politicians across the continent have found a new magic formula for electoral success and survival by playing on fears of foreigners and particularly of Islam – the wink and a nod that says that immigration has been the root of our social and economic decline. This is by no means an exclusively rightwing vice. Anyone who has heard the Dutch Labour party recently will have difficulty putting light between them and the demagogue Geert Wilders.
Until today, they might have tried to argue that there was no harm in it, that it’s healthy even, a rebalancing of the scales after two decades of biting our tongues and creeping political correctness.
So, when it was thought that the assailant was a neo Nazi, mainstream politicians were held to be responsible, because they were said to have played on “fear of foreigners”.
Now we know that it wasn’t Nazis, but apparently, Islamists.
So, who is to blame for rendering mainstream, the genocidal antisemitism peddled by Islamists?
Jamie Bartlett from Demos, writing yesterday, is worth reading now:
It is dangerous to speculate about the motivation and ideology of the Toulouse killer. Following Anders Breivik’s attack in Oslo, many commentators wrongly assumed al-Qaeda were responsible. We tend to view the most recent attacks through the lens of the last.
The target – a Jewish school – does not reveal much, because both al-Qaeda and the far-right are obsessively anti-Semitic. Indeed, as we argued in The Power of Unreason, anti-Semitism is one of the few things that unites the far-right, al-Qaeda, and occasionally the far-left.
That is what makes it so worrying. It is worth making a broader point about anti-Semitism and far-right terrorism. Over the last three years there has been a definite increase in the activity among neo-Nazi groups across Europe. Security services are certainly taking the threat more seriously now. A number of neo-Nazis have gone through the government’s de-radicalisation ‘Channel’ project in the past two years. Combat 18, and various off-shoots in the Blood and Honour scene are more active than they were, especially online.
These Jewish conspiracy theories are on the increase, partly as a result of the ease with which they can be attractively packaged and shared online. Although I suspect that the perpetrator is a far-right neo-Nazi, weaned on Internet conspiracy theories and spurred into action by the belief that France and French culture are on the verge of a precipice, I would not bank on it. Anti-Semitism is equally at home in al-Qaeda inspired groups. That is why it is so worrying,
dangerous and damaging. That is why we should be doubly concerned by the re-emergence of this prejudice.
This, from Lindsey German: