…[T]he entire tone of the [BBC’s] coverage of the killings turns out to have been misplaced. Ever since the dreadful news that a gunman had attacked a Jewish school in Toulouse after killing three French soldiers, the overriding assumption on the part of the Corporation was that, unless the killer was merely unhinged, the suspect must be a far-right extremist, animated by a hatred of minorities. So every spokesman for the governing party hauled onto the news programmes on Radio 4 was interrogated as to whether President Sarkozy had somehow added fuel to the flames by talking about there being ‘too many’ immigrants in France and complaining about the alleged provision of halal meat to unsuspecting consumers. The possibility of an Islamist assassin was, by contrast, mentioned only in passing….
But for a disinterested observer, an Islamist suspect was likely from the outset. The French soldiers killed by the gunman were of North African origin; ergo, went the argument, he was animated by hatred of Muslims. But the critical thing about the soldiers was precisely that they were soldiers, and, as it happened, from a unit that had served in Afghanistan. That should have been the element that raised suspicions of Islamist motivation.
As for the attack on a Jewish school, the unpleasant reality is that anti-Semitism in Europe is now predominantly territory occupied by Islamists, not by old-fashioned fascists. And the reporting should have taken that fact into account.