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Toulouse Gunman Puts French President Nicolas Sarkozy's Anti-Muslim Policies Into Focus

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In his five years in office, French President Nicholas Sarkozy  has done nothing but serve up opportunities on a silver platter to the National Front party.

National Front president Marine Le Pen is now using Mohammed Merah, the alleged jihadist, French Muslim born to Algerian parents in order to heat up her presidential electoral campaign and reach more voters.

But it is difficult to blame Le Pen for seizing the killings as a way to revamp her presidential electoral campaign, when Sarkozy has done such a good job pushing France to the far right since taking office.

The policies and laws that Sarkozy has championed   have created a country where the word ‘inclusion’ is slipping out of the dictionary. How did he manage to do that?

First, it was the ban of citizneships for foreign-born French. In 2010, Sarkozy proposed revoking the citizenship of anyone in France born by immigrants or naturalized, who was accused of polygamy, has attacked the police, or those who practice female circumcision. Some argued that the target of these proposals was the French Muslim population.

Then, Sarkozy turned to the Roma people, mainly coming from Romania and Bulgaria. In August 2010, Sarkozy led an effort to kick these immigrants out of their camps.

Finally, Sarkozy spearheaded the ban on the niqab, which he called  “Islam’s symbol of strict segregation of sexes.” . The veil which leaves eyes visible can only be worn in the French streets if people are ready to pay a $200 fine or take French citizenship courses. The law applies to 2,000 women living in the country of 65 million.

The xenophobia promoted by the government is slowly shaping public opinion. Although hate and race-inspired crimes dropped in the last years, 48 percent of the French do not consider Muslims to be part of society. More than half of the country believes there are too many immigrants, says the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights.

Nicolas Sarkozy has stretched the motto “Liberté, Egalite, Fraternité” to the point that the country is tearing itself apart. And the National Front is pleased to give a new meaning to those famous words of the French Revolution.

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