The Congress of the French branch of the Muslim Brotherhood (UOIF) will take place in the city of Le Bourget, near Paris, from April 6-9. Over 100,000 participants are expected. Six anti-Semitic Islamic preachers who were invited to speak were denied entry into France. Other anti-Semitic Islamic preachers will speak anyway; they are French, they cannot be expelled. They will not be condemned. The French government knows that if it condemned them, it might be confronted by riots in many suburbs. Every year, openly anti-Semitic books are on sale at the Congress of the UOIF, among them the fabricated Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This year will be no different. Several radical Islamist organizations openly advocate — without interference — jihad on French territory. One of them, Forsane Alizza (Pride Riders), was banned by the French government at the end of February: it had started to form a brigade of fighters on French soil. Although officially the organization has disappeared, its members are still active. Eighteen of them were arrested on March 30; they will probably soon be released.
Also, as it is now widely known, on March 19, a man entered a Jewish school, Ozar Hatora, in Toulouse, France, where he killed a rabbi, his two children, and then an eight years old little girl by shooting her three times in the head after dragging her by the hair to place her in front of the camera he was carrying. These were the worst anti-Semitic acts committed on French soil since the three-week kidnapping, torture and murder of Ilan Halimi in February 2006.
After the murders in Toulouse, like commentators and so many other people, the police initially followed the trail of the “extreme right”. A mobilization across the country was to be expected. The mobilization started quickly.
It was soon revealed that the killer who had just shot four Jews was the same man who had murdered three French soldiers, including two Muslims, the week before. All the commentators ferociously incriminated the ‘far right’. Anti-racist associations issued statements denouncing “fascist barbarity raising its ugly head again.”
It then emerged that the man was a French Muslim who had traveled to the mountains of Afghanistan in to train for jihad, Islamic holy war. The police found him, and shot him to death after a rough gunfight.
The mobilization ceased as rapidly as it had begun. Commentators no longer spoke of anti-Semitism. Anti-racist associations became silent. All attention focused on the killer, Mohamed Merah. He was presented as a “nice young man” by his neighbors, then as a “petty criminal” who inexplicably drifted, and finally as a “lone wolf” without any significant connection to terrorist organizations.
It was gradually revealed that his older brother, Abdelkader, now in prison, had links with Islamists in Belgium and the United Kingdom, and organized networks helping young French Muslims join jihadi organizations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
It appeared that the killer, Mohamed Merah had been imprisoned in Afghanistan for planting bombs in Kandahar, and had been placed on the list of dangerous people to be monitored closely by the security services of the United States.
It also appeared that he was under suspicion by the French Department of the Interior, a circumstance that did not prevent him from obtaining an impressive arsenal, and killing several times without arousing immediate suspicions.
More information will emerge. The French mainstream media will reveal it, with obvious reluctance. Every time journalists speak or write about the case, they constantly point out that Mohamed Merah is “not really a Muslim,” and that no one should forget that Islam is a “religion of peace.”
Anti-racist associations have broken their silence and called for vigilance against “racism” in general, and against the risk of “divisions.”
Nicolas Sarkozy has promised sanctions against French youths who go train in jihadi camps and those who visit websites praising jihad. Consequently, Sarkozy was immediately described by almost all other political leaders as a dangerous man.
The worst anti-Semitic crime committed on French soil for decades is no longer described as an anti-Semitic crime by anyone, except Jews, and even Jews choose their words carefully. Now the Jewish school that was attacked as well as other Jewish schools in France are receiving threatening emails, according to Agence France-Presse, Jewish cemeteries are being vandalized in Paris and Nice, and graffiti praising Merah has been appearing over the walls of homes. The assassin justified his act by invoking the “suffering of Gaza’s children,” a suffering described by a growing number of journalists as a “mitigating circumstance.” When Richard Prasquier, president of CRIF (Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France) wanted to say during a newscast that media should cease showing distorted images inciting hatred of Israel, the anchor immediately stopped him, saying, “this is a moment of meditation, not controversy.”
About the Author: Guy Millière is Professor at the University of Paris. He has published 27 books on France, Europe, the United States and the Middle East.
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