By Eve Gani
23 March 2012
French Jews and Muslims have come together to mourn, breaking easy links between their people and Israeli policies or Jihadism
We were in a state of shock that Monday, early in the morning, when we discovered that our children's lives had been snatched by a cold-hearted killer who had poured his hate and his bullets into the heart of a Jewish school.
Then the anguish came, with all the questions that followed about who the killer was and the possibility he might kill again. Given who the victims were – Muslims in Montauban, Jews in Toulouse – we realised very quickly there was a message of racist, anti-Semitic hate, but also, because of the two institutions that were hit, the army on the one hand, the school on the other, it was clear that these were also attacks on the institutions and symbols of the republic. Nicolas Sarkozy met Jewish and Muslim leaders at the Elysée twice in 24 hours, concerned the nation should not be torn apart by the actions of a single man or group representing the most barbaric of all criminals.
This event marks a particular turning-point in the history of anti-Semitism in France. First, there's the modus operandi: never before has a murderer attacked schoolchildren. And the motivation for what the suspect did, the link he made between what he did and the death of "Palestinian children" shows the hatred of Israel which is spreading among some groups in France, leading to abominable anti-Semitic crimes. And when it's a school, it's a matter of assassination and anti-Semitism. An assassination, not a shooting, because the aim was to kill and terrorise a whole community. And anti-Semitic because it was children who were killed, simply because they were Jewish, with this link between "Jew" and "Israel", and "Israel" and "criminal". The criminal that morning was the man who shot Jewish children.
It's also a terrible thing for Muslims in France. The French army binds everyone who serves in it to the republic's principles of equality amongst citizens and meritocracy. When it came to debating national identity, the army paid homage to the values of courage and commitment to France. This tradition goes back a long way, because Muslims were already fighting on the front in the First World War. We can also understand why Mohammed Moussaoui, chairman of the French council of Muslims (CFCM), said, when he arrived at the Elysée on Wednesday, that Muslims in France were "offended" that the suspect behind the killings in Montauban and Toulouse claimed to be acting in the name of Islam.
"These acts are totally against the foundations of our religion," said Moussaoui, standing alongside the chairman of the French Jewish council (Crif), Richard Prasquier. In this crisis situation, Prasquier stressed to him the importance of dialogue between Jews and Muslims with these words: "Our coming together shows a wonderful thing: there is absolutely no reason to link this person and the Islamist movement." He added: "This man's enemies include the Muslims of France, after all … Having said that, we need to avoid being complacent about these movements, which represent a real danger to our republic."
After these atrocious deeds, we want to salute the common front our political class is making against these awful deeds. We would like to thank France for the courage it has shown in dealing with this crisis, and we hope people will admit after this tragedy that raging against Israel kills in France, and Islam in France is not Jihadism. Today, the whole of France is mourning its children, and will never give an inch on these two subjects.
Source: The Guardian, London