A story of France

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The initial information about Toulouse killer Mohamed Merah suggests that his is a story of modern France. While the Presidency and certain media commentators would like to stop all debate about what this event means for our society, the precise opposite is true. Like the earlier case of Algerian-born Khaled Kelkal, who was shot dead by gendarmes in 1995 after being implicated in a wave of bomb attacks in France, the story of Mohamed Merah holds up a mirror to society. And, says Mediapart editor François Bonnet, it raises vital questions for presidential candidates who seek to provide an alternative to the current presidency.

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So, Mohamed Merah is not a barbarian monster appearing from nowhere, the sudden incarnation of an Al Qaeda Islamic terrorism that is abstract when not imaginary. The initial details we have on this man, who according to the police openly admitted to the killings in Toulouse and Montauban, tell us something altogether different. They tell us a story of France today. They tell us what can become of our society and where public responsibility might lie.