Mohammed Merah, a French national of Algerian descent and former member of al-Qaeda, was allegedly behind two separate attacks in France this week. Merah is suspected to have shot four people at a Jewish school and three soldiers of Arab descent, possibly to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children and protest French military deployments abroad.
According to the media outlet France 24, Merah also cited France's burqa ban and role in the Afghanistan war as part of his motive. Meanwhile, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been campaigning on his tough immigration policies in the run-up to the first round of presidential elections, just one month away. Benjamin Abtan, head of the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement says there is concern that increasing anti-immigration sentiment may have fueled these attacks, and that it could lead to others. Peter Neumann is the director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization.