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Crisis in Toulouse Alters French Presidential Campaign – NYTimes.com

PARIS — With the candidate of the National Front, Marine Le Pen, calling for a “war on these fundamentalist political religious groups who are killing our children,” it was easy for President Nicolas Sarkozy to take the high road in the sharp political reaction to the terrorist acts of Mohammed Merah, who was killed by the police on Thursday in Toulouse after himself claiming responsibility for killing seven people.MultimediaTimesCast | French Suspect Killed GraphicScene of the Toulouse StandoffRelatedSuspect in French Killings Slain as Police Storm Apartment After 30-Hour Siege March 23, 2012French Gunman Seen as Homegrown Militant March 22, 2012Related in OpinionEditorial: The Aftermath in Toulouse March 23, 2012Room for Debate: Islam in the Melting Pot of Marseille March 22, 2012Connect With Us on TwitterFollow @nytimesworld for international breaking news and headlines.Twitter List: Reporters and Editors Benoit Tessier/ReutersMarine Le Pen of the National Front lashed out at fundamentalists.Despite the failure of the French state to catch Mr. Merah before his rampage or to capture him alive, the killings have nonetheless altered the tone of the presidential campaign, which was briefly suspended, tilting it — at least for a little while — in Mr. Sarkozy’s favor.Despite having built a reputation for toughness on crime and for polarizing comments about immigrants and Islam, Mr. Sarkozy quickly donned the calming, sober cloak of leadership, incarnating France, casting himself as the president who unites and protects, rather than the candidate who divides.As the issues of this long presidential campaign shift from economic anxiety and joblessness to terrorism and crime, Mr. Sarkozy’s candidacy continues to reap the benefits, political experts say. It is only on issues related to security that he outpolls his main challenger, the Socialist candidate, François Hollande, whose focus has been on the economy.

via Crisis in Toulouse Alters French Presidential Campaign – NYTimes.com.

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