French Muslims fear backlash after shootings

French Muslims fear backlash as police besiege suspected militant who killed 7 people including 3 Jewish children.

Afp March 21, 2012

PARIS: French Muslims said Wednesday they feared a backlash and increased inter-religious tensions as police besieged a suspected militant who killed seven people including three Jewish children.

Police were trying to negotiate the surrender of Mohamed Merah, a 23-year-old Frenchman of Algerian descent suspected of killing three soldiers last week and three children and a teacher at a Jewish school on Monday.

Officials say he has visited Afghanistan and Pakistan, bragged of being an al Qaeda member and claimed to have acted to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children.

On the streets of Paris and its suburbs, French Muslims denounced his attacks and said they hoped his acts would not spur anti-Islamic feelings in France.

"Killing young Jews to avenge young Palestinians causes nothing but revulsion," said Abdelhak Eddouk, a Muslim leader in the Paris suburban region  of Essonne.

"This type of person hurts everyone," he said, adding that he feared that "in an election period, some will take advantage of this to stigmatise Islam as a religion and Muslims as citizens."

Ezdine Ould Mohamed, the head of a local Muslim cultural association in Essonne, urged politicians to "ask the right questions and act responsibly" after the attacks.

Immigration has been a top theme in the campaign for France's April-May presidential election, with right-wing President Nicolas Sarkozy declaring this month that there were "too many foreigners" in France.

Sarkozy allies and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen have also lashed out against the widespread production of Islamic halal meat.

In Paris's working-class neighbourhood of Belleville, home to a large North African community, butcher Lassaad Fkiri said he feared the shootings would add fuel to the rhetoric.

"I think politicians will fan the flames, after the halal debate, and some will use these dramatic events to point the finger at Muslims," the 39-year-old said.

Outside a mosque in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, 31-year-old Mema Camara said she hoped most in France would not link the killer with all Muslims.

"He would not have done this if he were a real Muslim. God forbids us from fighting. I really hope there will be no confusion between this madman and the entire community," she said.

Nearby, 51-year-old Nasreddine Hanifa said he believed the killer had been "recruited by extremists" and most likely "brainwashed," but that he needed "to be punished for these horrible crimes."

The imam of the mosque in Bondy, Mohammed Meniri, said he was particularly shocked by the details that have emerged of how the killer chased down and shot one of his victims, seven-year-old Miriam Monsonego, at the Jewish school.

"To have taken a child by the hair and shot her in the head - he must not be sane," Meniri said. "He dirties Islam instead of honouring it."


G. Din | 12 years ago | Reply

@Maria: "@Arijit Sharma: It sounds like you are mad about Muslims ruling South Asia for over 1000 years before the arrival of British." Don't inflate yourself too much, you might burst. "Muslims ruling South Asia"?, " for 1000 years"? Try to study history as recorded by neutral sources, not by rentier beards. We also have rentier historians like Romilla Thappar who tried to convince us that Hindus and Muslims were so "bhai-bhai" that they fought, hand in hand, shoulder-to-shoulder against the British in 1857, calling it pompously the "First War of Independence". What a war? All the Hindus and ferocious, invincible, martial Muslims of the subcontinent India could not overwhelm a few hundred or thousand Britishers located on an outpost, 20 to 30 days away from their mother country. Writing inspired history to pander to their purse-masters always gets exposed eventually! So, what was the cause of the spectacular failure of the much-vaunted "First War of Independence"?

Maria | 12 years ago | Reply

@Arijit Sharma: It sounds like you are mad about Muslims ruling South Asia for over 1000 years before the arrival of British. Yes "jiski lathi uski bhains" but there is a thing as justice. Muslims treated non Muslims in South Asia poorly for over 1000 years before the British came to the area and freed the people. So if Arabs are treating people badly, that too is wrong. Same for Israelis or any other people. It's sad that people will forget that this deranged killer in France killed 3 Muslim soldiers as well as innocent Jewish citizens. All he has done is make Europeans hate Arabs even more. Already Arabs have the worst reputation in Western countries.

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