FRANCOIS HOLLANDE EST ELU PRESIDENT
Ambiance à Tulle à l’annonce des résultats
More detailed results: Paris
- François Hollande l’emporte dans le 2e (57,6%), le 3e (61,35%), le 4e (54,96%), le 5e (56,22%), le 9e (54,19%), le 10e (69,39%), le 11e (67,76%), le 13e (65,27%), le 14e (60,26%), le 18e (70,31%), le 19e (67,64%) et le 20e arrondissement (71,83%).
- Nicolas Sarkozy arrive en tête dans le 1er (52,17%), le 6e (57,66%), le 7e (71,76%), le 8e (72,47%), le 15e (54,50%), le 16e (78,01%) et le 17e arrondissement (58,22%).
More detailed results:
- A Sablé (Sarthe), la ville de François Fillon, Nicolas Sarkozy recueille 52,89% des voix, contre 57,16% en 2007.
- A Saint-Quentin (Aisne), ville dont Xavier Bertrand est maire, François Hollande (54,18%) devance largement Nicolas Sarkozy (45,82%).
- A Troyes (Aube), où François Baroin est maire, Nicolas Sarkozy (50,39%) compte seulement 171 voix d’avance sur François Hollande.
- A Nancy (Meurthe-et-Moselle), fief de Nadine Morano, où Nicolas Sarkozy était arrivé en tête il y a cinq ans, François Hollande (55%) compte dix points d’avance sur le président sortant.
- Au Puy-en-Velay (Haute-Loire), ville dont Laurent Wauquiez est maire, François Hollande (55,89%) arrive très nettement devant Nicolas Sarkozy.
- A Chaumont (Haute-Marne), ville de Luc Chatel, François Hollande arrive également en tête avec 51,85% des voix.
UPDATE 26: (RTS) Comme l’annonçaient tous les sondages, François Hollande deviendra bien le nouveau président de la République française à l’issue du deuxième tour du scrutin présidentiel ce dimanche. Il a remporté, selon les premières estimations (pas encore définitives), entre 52,5% et 53,3% des voix contre 46,7% à 47,5% pour son adversaire, Nicolas Sarkozy, le président sortant qui devrait donc quitter donc l’Elysée le 15 mai prochain.
UPDATE 25: EXPLOSION DE JOIE RUE SOLFERINO
UPDATE 24: 19H09– AGENCE FRANCE PRESS (AFP): FRANÇOIS HOLLANDE ÉLU PRESIDENT DE LA REPUBLIQUE
UPDATE 23: (LE MATIN) NOUVEAUX CHIFFRES CONFIRMANT, VOIRE AFFINANT LA VICTOIRE DE LA GAUCHE: ENTRE 52,7 ET 53,3% DES VOIX POUR VOIX POUR FRANÇOIS HOLLANDE, SELON LH2 (LOUIS HARRIS), 53,3% POUR INTERACTIVE, 52% SELON CSA.
UPDATE 22: 19:01 (RTBF) LE JOURNALISTE DE LA RTBF DECLARE, “C’EST PLIE, FRANCOIS HOLLANDE LE PROCHAIN PRESIDENT DE LA FRANCE”
UPDATE 21: 18h55 (RTBF) : FRANÇOIS HOLLANDE AURAIT GAGNÉ LES ÉLECTIONS PRÉSIDENTIELLES. La fourchette reste a déterminer quand même
UPDATE 20: 18h51: La foule crie victoire rue de Solférino, le siège de PS, alors que l’ambiance est plus tendue à la Mutualité, où Nicolas Sarkozy doit s’exprimer.
UPDATE 19: 18H49: RTBF CALLED THE ELECTION FOR FRANCOIS HOLLANDE. THE ONLY THING THAT STILL TO BE DETERMINED IS THE EXTENT OF THE VICTORY.
UPDATE 18: 18H47: Pierre Moscovici, directeur de campagne de François Hollande: «On ressent de l’émotion, on attend».
UPDATE 17: 18h37: Selon le journal Suisse, Le Matin, “La victoire de François Hollande se confirme”
UPDATE 16: 18h01: selon l’entourage de François Hollande, le socialiste s’envolera de Brives à destination de Paris à bord d’un avion privé aux alentours de 22h, quel que soit le résultat.
UPDATE 15: 18h00: des proches de Nicolas Sarkozy arrivent à l’Elysée: sa porte-parole Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet et son conseiller spécial Henri Guaino.
UPDATE 14: 18h00–LES TENDANCES DES 3 INSTITUTS DONNENT TOUJOURS FRANCOIS HOLLANDE EN TETE AVEC 52% ET 53%.
UPDATE 13: 17h00 (selon RTS et RTFB) SONDAGES DES SORTIES DES BUREAUX DE VOTE SELONG LES 3 GRANDS INSTITUTS DE SONDAGE.
HARRIS: FRANCOIS HOLLANDE 53%, NICOLAS SARKOZY 47%
IFOP: FRANCOIS HOLLANDE 52.5%, NICOLAS SARKOZY 47.5%
SOFRES: FRANCOIS HOLLANDE 53%, NICOLAS SARKOZY 47%
UPDATE 12: Selon le Ministere de l’Interieur, le taux de participation a 17h00 etait de 71.96%
A bit of humor to relax the tension of this electoral night
En directe de la frontiere Franco-Suisse
UPDATE 11: On commence à s’affairer devant le siège du Parti socialiste, rue de Solférino à Paris.
UPDATE 10: 16h52 (Tweets des correspondants de la RTS) Des militants commencent à arriver à la Bastille, où François Hollande avait prévu de faire la fête en cas de victoire. Des écrans géants commencent à être installés
UPDATE 9: (source: Le Monde, RTBF, RTS) François Hollande, s’il est élu président, devrait avoir dans la soirée un échange avec la chancelière allemande Angela Merkel, a indiqué un de ses plus proches ami, Jean-Marc Ayrault, le maire de Nantes (ouest).
UPDATE 8: a 16h30 (source RTS) On commence à s’affairer devant le siège du Parti socialiste, rue de Solférino à Paris, comme le montre ce cliché de France Télévisions:
UPDATE 7: a 16h10 (source RTS) Nicolas Sarkozy se trouve à son bureau de l’Elysée, où il doit attendre les résultats du scrutin en compagnie de ses conseillers.
UPDATE 6: RESULTATS DES AMERIQUES (SOURCES: RTBF, RTSINFO)
Voici un premier apercu des résultats partiels des Amériques. La participation a augmentè en moyenne de 3 a 4% par rapport au 1er tour. En règle générale, François Hollande fait le plein des voix de gauche et gagne environ le tiers des voix de François Bayrou.
FRANCOIS HOLLANDE gagne à Montreal (près de 57,74%), à Toronto (51% – la gauche n’y avait jamais triomphe), au Pérou (55%), en Argentine (51,7%), en Colombie (58,82%) et au Honduras (56%). Il comble l’ecart avec la droite au Mexique (47,3%), au Bresil (47% – ou il gagne à Rio, Brasilia et Recife), au Costa Rica (44,1%) et au Chili (44%).
UPDATE 5: (SOURCES: RTBF, RTSINFO) Selon les premières tendances et les sondages de sortie des urnes de 3 grand instituts de sondages, François Hollande serait en tête
UPDATE 4: (SOURCES: RTBF, RTSINFO) RESULTATS DES DEPARTEMENTS D’OUTRE-MER
Nous avons les premiers résultats pour le second tour de la présidentielle française en provenance des départements d’Outre-mer.
Saint-Pierre et Miquelon: François Hollande 65%, Nicolas Sarkozy 35% ;
Martinique: Francois Hollande 68,5%, pour Nicolas Sarkozy 35.1%
Guadeloupe: François Hollande 72%
Guyane: Francois Hollande 62%
Saint-Martin: François Hollande avec 51,5 %, tandis que Nicolas Sarkozy ne serait en tête que dans la petite île de Saint-Barthélémy, avec près de 83% des voix exprimées.
UPDATE 3: INFORMATION RTBF–Trois grands instituts de sondages annoncent donc le candidat socialiste François Hollande en tête avec entre 52,5 et 53% des voix. Cela dit ces résutats ne portent que sur les votes du matin (jusqu’à 11h) et il faut encore tenir de la traditionnelle marge d’erreur. Ces résultats sont donc encore à prendre avec précautions à ce stade.
UPDATE 2: RTSINFO– Selon des sondages effectués à la sortie d’une série de bureaux de vote, deux instituts donnent actuellement François Hollande vainqueur de l’élection présidentielle française avec une majorité de 52,5 à 53% des voix.
UPDATE 1: Le taux de participation était, dimanche à midi, de 30,66% en métropole, selon le ministère de l’Intérieur. Ce taux est en baisse par rapport à celui enregistré à la même heure en 2007 (34,11%, marqué il est vrai par une forte mobilisation). Au premier tour le 22 avril dernier, ce taux avait atteint les 28,29% à midi.
We welcome our readers from all over the world. I see that you are already hit the “refresh button” hard and i think there will be thousands of you from France, Europe, and Africa. I promise you that we will be starting our live coverage of the first estimations and exit polls now. Buckle up, this is going to be a “close” right. Let’s Go!
Comme nous l’avons fait pour le premier tour, Nous allons aussi publier les résultats du premier du deuxième tour des élections présidentielles françaises le 6 Mai à 18:30 heure françaises et 12:30 heure Americaine.
Dès que les résultats (ou résultats partiels) seront disponibles, nous les publierons et les posterons sur ce blog.
Alors restez à l’écoute et venez sur le blog le 6 Mai autour de 18h30 pour avoir les deuxième résultats du tour avant tout le monde.
We did it for the first round, and we were successful in getting the results and publishing there before almost everyone. Well, we are doing it again for the second around. We will be publishing the results of the second round of the French presidential elections at 18:30 or as soon as we have them. We are not bound by the French law banning the publication of partial results before 20:00, and therefore there is no justification for us to hold on to the results until 20:00 (or 14:00 EST).
So as soon as we have partial results (and we expect to have them at 18:30 French time and 12:30 EST), we will post them right the way on this blog.
So, stay tuned and check our blog on Mai 6 at 18:30 (if you live in France) and at 12:30 American EST.
It is hard to really determine a winner in a presidential debate. Both candidates are usually well-prepared, having digested long lists of facts and numbers, and ready to rumble and get it over with. Even in the American tradition of 3 presidential debates, it is hard to clearly say that one candidate has clearly won, while the other has clearly lost. Well, this was not the case tonight. In tonight’s French presidential debate, there was a clear winner and there was a clear loser. Hollande won, and Sarkozy lost.
Hollande dominated the debate from the beginning till the end. For almost 3 hours, the challenger showed his keen mastery of every fact related to any topic debated. In one word, it was a rare display of superiority. Sarkozy looked lost, angry, belligerent, disrespectful, not in control of his own files and facts. Sarkozy was outclassed and out-punched. Briefly stated, Sarkozy was in over his head.
We have to remember, Sarkozy was the candidate who demanded to have 3 debates. He was the candidate who said that he was “going to explode [Hollande].” Of course, Sarkozy, the bomb-maker, got exploded tonight. It is useless to go over every minute of the 3 hour long debate, but there was a passage, just before the end, where Hollande literally put the cherry on top of the cake. It was the apotheosis of the debate, the climatic moment, a moment that would certainly enter the history of presidential debates. Talking about his vision of the presidency and what he will do differently, Hollande, in a very eloquent way–almost poetic–summed up all of Sarkozy’s failures and emphasized clearly and calmly what he would do differently. Watch, this was a beautiful moment.
If you read some of my previous posts on the economy and the crisis of the eurozone, you would know already my opinion about the stupidity of fiscal austerity during recessionary cycle. Well, i hate to say it, but i have been right all along. This past week, however, more and more European policymakers have been softly whispering another tune and getting themselves ready to leave the sinking austerity policy ship to board the demand-side one. It warms my heart that they have finally seen the light.
Of course, i wasn’t the only person highly critical of fiscal austerity. Paul Krugman, one of the most brilliant economists out there, has been arguing the same point since the beginning of the crisis.
Those of you who do not know Dr. Paul Krugman, well he is Professor of Economics and International Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, Centenary Professor at the London School of Economics, and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics (aka Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences) for his work on New Trade Theory and New Economic Geography. Since the beginning of the crisis, Dr. Krugman has been writing a series of articles in the New Times explaining the origin(s) of the crisis and advocating for the soundest way of getting out of it. Needless to say that Dr. Krugman has been right on almost everything he has said.
Here is his latest article that he could’ve titled it, “I told you So!”
Death of a Fairy Tale
By PAUL KRUGMAN
This was the month the confidence fairy died.
For the past two years most policy makers in Europe and many politicians and pundits in America have been in thrall to a destructive economic doctrine. According to this doctrine, governments should respond to a severely depressed economy not the way the textbooks say they should — by spending more to offset falling private demand — but with fiscal austerity, slashing spending in an effort to balance their budgets.
Critics warned from the beginning that austerity in the face of depression would only make that depression worse. But the “austerians” insisted that the reverse would happen. Why? Confidence! “Confidence-inspiring policies will foster and not hamper economic recovery,” declared Jean-Claude Trichet, the former president of the European Central Bank — a claim echoed by Republicans in Congress here. Or as I put it way back when, the idea was that the confidence fairy would come in and reward policy makers for their fiscal virtue.
The good news is that many influential people are finally admitting that the confidence fairy was a myth. The bad news is that despite this admission there seems to be little prospect of a near-term course change either in Europe or here in America, where we never fully embraced the doctrine, but have, nonetheless, had de facto austerity in the form of huge spending and employment cuts at the state and local level.
So, about that doctrine: appeals to the wonders of confidence are something Herbert Hoover would have found completely familiar — and faith in the confidence fairy has worked out about as well for modern Europe as it did for Hoover’s America. All around Europe’s periphery, from Spain to Latvia, austerity policies have produced Depression-level slumps and Depression-level unemployment; the confidence fairy is nowhere to be seen, not even in Britain, whose turn to austerity two years ago was greeted with loud hosannas by policy elites on both sides of the Atlantic.
None of this should come as news, since the failure of austerity policies to deliver as promised has long been obvious. Yet European leaders spent years in denial, insisting that their policies would start working any day now, and celebrating supposed triumphs on the flimsiest of evidence. Notably, the long-suffering (literally) Irish have been hailed as a success story not once but twice, in early 2010 and again in the fall of 2011. Each time the supposed success turned out to be a mirage; three years into its austerity program, Ireland has yet to show any sign of real recovery from a slump that has driven the unemployment rate to almost 15 percent.
However, something has changed in the past few weeks. Several events — the collapse of the Dutch government over proposed austerity measures, the strong showing of the vaguely anti-austerity François Hollande in the first round of France’s presidential election, and an economic report showing that Britain is doing worse in the current slump than it did in the 1930s — seem to have finally broken through the wall of denial. Suddenly, everyone is admitting that austerity isn’t working.
The question now is what they’re going to do about it. And the answer, I fear, is: not much.
For one thing, while the austerians seem to have given up on hope, they haven’t given up on fear — that is, on the claim that if we don’t slash spending, even in a depressed economy, we’ll turn into Greece, with sky-high borrowing costs.
Now, claims that only austerity can pacify bond markets have proved every bit as wrong as claims that the confidence fairy will bring prosperity. Almost three years have passed since The Wall Street Journal breathlessly warned that the attack of the bond vigilantes on U.S. debt had begun; not only have borrowing costs remained low, they’ve actually fallen by half. Japan has faced dire warnings about its debt for more than a decade; as of this week, it could borrow long term at an interest rate of less than 1 percent.
And serious analysts now argue that fiscal austerity in a depressed economy is probably self-defeating: by shrinking the economy and hurting long-term revenue, austerity probably makes the debt outlook worse rather than better.
But while the confidence fairy appears to be well and truly buried, deficit scare stories remain popular. Indeed, defenders of British policies dismiss any call for a rethinking of these policies, despite their evident failure to deliver, on the grounds that any relaxation of austerity would cause borrowing costs to soar.
So we’re now living in a world of zombie economic policies — policies that should have been killed by the evidence that all of their premises are wrong, but which keep shambling along nonetheless. And it’s anyone’s guess when this reign of error will end.
19h25–Francois Hollande Gagne le Premier Tour des Elections Presidentielles
It is 17:00 & we just got partial results of the first round
of the French Presidential.
20h00-OFFICIAL (TF1, FRANCE 2 & CSA): FRANCOIS HOLLANDE WINS THE FIRST ROUND WITH 29.9%,
NICOLAS SARKOZY 25.90%
MARINE LE PEN 20%
JEAN LUC MELENCHON 11.60%
FRANCOIS BAYROU 9.8%
EVA JOLY 2.30%
Update 19: 20h20–Jean-Luc Mélenchon appelle à voter le 6 mai “je vous appelle à vous retrouver le 6 mai sans rien demander en échange pour battre de Sarkozy. Sans traîner les pieds, comme s’il s’agissait de me faire gagner l’élection présidentielle.”
Update 19: 20h10–Eva Joly appelle a voter Francois Hollande.
Update 18: Because of all the tendencies and estimations have been moving towards one distinct results, i am making it official and announcing that FRANCOIS HOLLANDE is the winner of the first around of the French presidential elections followed in second position by NICOLAS SARKOZY.
Update 17: Marine Le Pen à 20% selon plusieurs estimations–La candidate du Front National, Marine Le Pen obtiendrait de 17 à 20,7% et devancerait Jean-Luc Mélenchon (Front de Gauche) qui réaliserait entre 10,5% et 13%, selon des estimations des instituts CSA, Ipsos et Harris.
Update 16: 19h00, Selon la RTBF, Estimations avec fourchettes: Hollande 27-29 / Sarkozy 25-26 / Le Pen 18-20 / Mélenchon 11-12 / Bayrou 10
Update 15: Une heure avant la publication des resultats, Aurelie Filippetti (PS) evoque un “tres bon score de premier tour”
Update 14: Radio Télévision Belge Francophone (La RTBF) announce que François Hollande (28%) et Nicolas Sarkozy (25%) au second tour
Update 13: Selon les premières projections (moyenne de 3 instituts de sondages français), François Hollande arrive premier (27 à 29%), suivi de Nicolas Sarkozy (25 à 26%)
Update 12: 18h41, La dernière estimation de l’abstention finale, selon Ipsos-France, est de 19,7%.
Update 11: 18:25 François Hollande en tête selon toutes les premières projections
18h07: François Hollande se trouve dans le bureau du Conseil Général de Corrèze, dont il est par ailleurs président. Il donnera un discours d’une dizaine de minutes vers 20h30, selon BFM TV, avant de s’envoler pour Paris.
Update 10: 18:10 François Hollande en tête selon toutes les premières projections
Le Pen: 16%
Update 9: 18h05: Au quartier général parisien de François Bayrou, les militants commencent à arriver, indique France Télévisions. D’après l’équipe du candidat, 500 supporters du candidat du MoDem sont attendus à partir de 18h30.
Update 8: 18h02: À Stalingrad (Paris), près de 600 accréditations médias ont été délivrées pour la soirée de Jean-Luc Mélenchon, indique sur Twitter la journaliste Raphaëlle Besse-Desmoulières. Le candidat du Front de Gauche y est attendu pour 19h30.
Update 7: 18h01: Certains bureaux de vote sont en train de fermer. D’autres fermeront à 19h00 et 20h00.
Update 6: 18:00. François Hollande en tête selon toutes les premières projections
Le Pen: 16%
Update 5: Selon un tweet d’Eric Nunès, on commence déjà à faire la queue pour entendre Nicolas Sarkozy à la Mutualité.
Update 4: Francois Hollande serait toujours en tête a 17h33. Voici les premières projections moyennant les 3 instituts de sondages français qui s’occupent de faire l’estimation final du premier tour
Le Pen: 16-17%
Update 3: at 17:20 François Hollande serait en tête
Le Pen: 16%
Update 2: François Hollande en tête dans les départements et territoires d’outre-Mer
Saint-Pierre et Miquelon: François Hollande finit en tête avec 33,75% (contre 26,64% à Ségolène Royal en 2007), Nicolas Sarkozy le suit avec 18,75% (contre 24,55% en 2007).
Guadeloupe: François Hollande en tête avec 57% (contre 38% pour la candidate PS en 2007) loin devant Nicolas Sarkozy et ses 23,40% (alors qu’il réalisait 42,63% en 2007).
Update 1: at 17:00 French Time. Caution, these are still partial results and could still change
Le Pen: 16%
Turnout: Le Taux de participation moins élevé qu’en 2007 à 17h
A 17h ce dimanche, le taux de participation atteignait 70,59% pour le premier tour de l’élection présidentielle contre 73,87% à 17h00 lors du premier tour de 2007
France: Nous publierons les résultats du premier tour à 18:30 heure françaises et 12:30 heure Americaine EST.
Nous avons décidé de publier les résultats du premier tour des élections présidentielles françaises le 22 Avril à 18:30 heure françaises et 12:30 heure Americaine.
Dès que les résultats (ou résultats partiels) sont disponibles, nous les publierons et les posterons sur ce blog.
Alors restez à l’écoute et venez sur le blog le 22 Avril autour de 18h30 pour avoir les résultats du premier tour avant tout le monde.
We have decided to publish the results of the first round of the French presidential elections at 18:30 or as soon as we have them. We are not bound by the French law banning the publication of partial results before 20:00, and therefore there is no justification for us to hold on to the results until 20:00 (or 14:00 EST).
So as soon as we have partial results (and we expect to have them at 18:30 French time and 12:30 EST), we will post them right the way on this blog.
So, stay tuned and check our blog on April 22 18:30 (if you live in France) and 12:30 American EST.
One thing has be said about Jean Luc Melenchon: without him, the French presidential would be boring to death. Not only does he infuse a super dose of enthusiasm in the campaign with his speeches, demeanor, and charisma, but his supporters are also uber fervent and active on the net. And they have a very wicked sense of humor. Look at what they did with the official posters of almost all other candidates. Just sit back, watch and laugh.
France: Est-ce que l’anti-immigrant et la rhétorique de campagne islamophobe fomentent antisémitisme en France?
Courtesy of Juan Cole
As French police launch a massive manhunt for the person who shot down a rabbi, his two children, and another child outside a Jewish school in Toulouse, the modus operandi of the killer raises a chilling prospect. There had been similar shootings of French soldiers in the area, but the troops, three of whom were shot dead by a similar weapon by a motorcyclist, were of North African or Caribbean origin. Police are looking both at a the French far-right and at Muslim extremists as possible perpetrators. In the former case, the French political atmosphere would be implicated. [Update: As it turns out, it may be the latter: a potential suspect has been cornered, who was motivated by al-Qaeda-style extremism, the mother of all intolerant rhetoric. It is a little disturbing that his killing of 3 French troops (if it was he), two of them Muslim, is gradually dropping out of the press reporting. This breaking development does not, as some tweep suggested, blunt the force of the rest of this post, below.]
Immigrants and especially Muslims have been frequent targets of racism and racist rhetoric in French politics. President Nicolas Sarkozy was behind in the polls recently when he made up some ground with some strident rhetoric about too-free immigration inside the European Union. There are, he thundered, “too many foreigners in France.” (Hint: French antisemites view Jews as foreigners). Sarkozy has been accused of legitimating the National Front of his far-right rival Marine Le Pen by essentially stealing some of her anti-immigrant rhetoric. Indeed, he seems to be attracting her supporters.
It is in this hothouse atmosphere where it is being alleged that some French (non-Catholics, non-Gaulois) are less French than others, and are, indeed, undesirables within the French body politic, that the brutal murders of Jews outside Ozar ha-Torah in Toulouse took place.
Those on the Zionist far right who deliberately and systematically attempt to foment hatred of Muslims, are always in danger of at the same time promoting antisemitism. The same resentments, the same sordid politics and racist rhetoric, come into play for both. Sarkozy, by dirtying the Gaullist tradition with Le-Pen-iste rhetoric, is creating an atmosphere of intolerance in France that may not be entirely unrelated to the murders of innocent children and a man of God in Toulouse.
Controversy surrounding my last post titled “Mohammed Merah, la victime de la République”
Apparently, my last post on Mohammed Merah has caused some controversies. Some people are shocked by the use of the word victim and Merah in the same sentence. I am told that at the dailykos, i have earned the status of an apologist for Merah’s actions, and have been accused of trying to explain away his horrible acts and justify them. Of course, i am not doing that and anyone who has 2 fully functioning neurons had already understood that. Well, i do not have the time right now to write a proper reply in my own defense, though i really don’t need any nor do i feel the need to justify myself to people who have no idea what i am talking about, but i would like to say that the day we stop trying to understand our actions, and we stop trying to understand and explain horrible events–no matter how horrible they are–is the day we lose our humanity. And if we reach that day, we might as well load a gun and shoot ourselves in the head and get it over with.
So let’s talk about Mohamed Merah (for my American readers and followers who are not up-to-date on this story here is a CNN link and BCC top 10 articles on this incident, which should be enough to bring you up to speed). I didn’t want to write anything about this story for the simple reason that I thought it didn’t need more attention that it already had. However, after reading whatever was written on this terrorist/murder/killing-spree incident, and watching news summaries linked to it, I noticed something that bothered me a lot; something that was missing from the debate surround this incident. The way the whole story was presented was as if Merah and what he did was sui generis; he came out of nowhere; those incidents were not caused by any structural and/or institutional variables. For French politicians, pundits, and blowhards alike, Merah was just like Jesus; both men were the result of an immaculate conception. However, Merah’s immaculate conception was neither biological nor divine; it was institutional and structural conception. For them, Merah just hated so much the Jews and the French soldiers, and loved so much radical Islam that he woke up one day and decided to kill some Jews and some soldiers. This explanation is as misleading as idiotic. No one has yet to ask: how did Merah get to this point? What are the structural reasons? Are there institutional causes? No one wants to ask these tough questions because no one likes or wants to hear the answers.
Because of this, I decided to bestow on Mohammed Merah the status of victim. Yes, he was actually a victim, and no one dared to say it. But how can I say that Merah was a victim when he was allegedly accused (I am using “allegedly” because the courts and/or the prosecutors have not yet indicted and/or charged Merah with these crimes) of killing 3 Jewish kids, 3 soldiers and 1 adult male? Have I lost my mind? Have I lost all sense of compassion for the victims? Am I justifying these horrendously inhumane crimes? No, I have not and i do not by any stretch of the imagination. Merah is as much a killer as he is a victim. He is victim of the French Republic; he is the victim of his own name, his own skin color, of his own accent, of his own religion, of his own appearance, of his own history, of his own socioeconomic situation, of his own culture, and of his own identity. Everyone of these aspects of his victimhood (or victimology as criminalists would called it) were aggravated, manipulated, isolated, amplified and used against Merah by the French Republic to shame him, to isolate him, to degrade him, to debase him, to dehumanize him, and to strip him of any honor and any pride in himself, his family, his community, and his country.
Merah was an outcast living in a society that despised his forefathers, his fathers, and despised him. He was living in a country that dehumanized his forefathers, his fathers, and dehumanized him. He grew up seeing his parents disrespected and afraid of whom they are. He was probably ashamed of his father’s accent, his grammar mistakes, and he wanted so much his daddy to just speak like a “normal” Frenchman. As a young kid in school, Merah had probably asked himself several times, “why don’t I have blue eyes and a fair skin? Why is my name so different and so hated and synonymous with ugliness and poverty? If only my name was Francois or Jacques or Pierre, and I had fair skin and blue eyes, I wouldn’t be living in these dire conditions.”
Merah was ashamed of his religious tradition because he was told repeatedly that Islam is an evil and backward religion. He was told that the hijab that his grandmothers wore for years, and probably his mother too, wasn’t a religious practice, but a sign of proselytism, fanaticism, and inferiority that was not welcome in the Republic. He was told that the Republic would fight and criminalize his religious tradition. He was told that he lived in a secular country, yet he noticed that Catholic holidays are recognized and celebrated while his are demeaned and forgotten. He was told that he lived in a country that did not distinguish at all between all religions, yet he watched his father pray in a dilapidated cave-like make-shift mosques while churches are erected at every corner like majestic architectural marvels.
Merah was ashamed of his history and the history of his community because his forefathers migrated to France as second-class indigenous Muslims who were neither Algerians nor French. Politically speaking, his fathers and grandfathers were bastards as far as the French Republic was concerned. And even when his father embraced the Republic and became a French citizen, the Republic never embraced him back. In fact, the Republic fought his father’s religion and origin and wanted him to erase his distinctiveness and live in a cultural, religious, ethnic, and linguistic vacuum; a no-man’s-land identity where he could neither prosper as a French citizen nor could he be proud of his Algerian heritage. So his father was just like his grandfather: a bastard of the Republic. This didn’t change with Merah. Although he is of this new generation, these young beurres who were born in 1980s and 1990s and think they are fully assimilated into the French societal fabric. But to Merah great sadness and psychological despair, he discovered that to be assimilated in the French societal fabric he needed to radically change and become someone else. He found out that speaking French without an accent wasn’t enough. He needed to strip himself of his religion, his past, his culture, and hide who he really is so deep in the confines of his psyche that no one would dare call him anything else but French. But every time Merah rode the train, he was reminded that he didn’t look “French”. Every time he wanted to talk to a pretty “French” girl, he was reminded of his origins. Every time he crossed the path of a cop, he was reminded that he was presumably guilty, not innocent. Every time he watched politicians on the news, he was reminded of his second-class citizen status. Every time he listened to the minister of Interior (to all of ministers of Interior since 1970s), he was reminded that he and his parents belonged to a backward civilization. Every time he watched his president campaign, he felt that he was just a guest in a foreign country; that he was just an electoral merchandize bartered around between the radical right and the extreme right. Briefly stated, Merah was not French, though he has no other citizenship. He was never French not because of the lack of wanting to be French, but because the French Republic and the French society refused to accept him or accept any of his heritage with respect, dignity, and equality.
See, to be assimilated in the cultural and the sociopolitical fabric of a country, that country has to assimilate you and accept your culture, your ethnicity, and your tradition as well. Assimilation works both ways. Assimilation is an endogenous phenomenon; you embrace a country, and at its turn, the country embraces you too. In the case of Merah and many like him, assimilation meant one thing: leave who you are behind and wear this new foreign suit hoping that the suit would fit you. After a while, Merah felt like a clown who was acting his part in a circus called France. The problem was that Merah was just acting the part, not living or becoming the part. This daily dissociation from reality is hard to maintain, and if a person is not psychologically strong, that person could start looking for alternatives. Unfortunately for Merah, he found an alternative to the republic. A radical and perverted form of a religious belief that provided him with an easy explanation and designated an already guilty target. That’s the whole story of Merah and that is the story that no one is telling out there. No, it is not about Islam and radical fanaticism. It’s all about the Republic and its failed models of integration and assimilation. Yes, Merah pulled the trigger and there is no doubt about that, but we need to backup a little, get our story straight, and determine how he got to that decision. In the case of Merah, genetics loaded the gun, his cultural, social, and political environment aimed the gun, and the French Republic pulled the trigger.