French Muslims fear backlash after shootings

Published: March 21, 2012
French CRS police block a street during a raid on a house to arrest suspects in the killings of three children and a rabbi on Monday at a Jewish school, in Toulouse March 21, 2012. PHOTO: REUTERS

French CRS police block a street during a raid on a house to arrest suspects in the killings of three children and a rabbi on Monday at a Jewish school, in Toulouse March 21, 2012. PHOTO: REUTERS

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.”

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Reader Comments (35)

  • Talat Haque
    Mar 21, 2012 - 6:56PM

    When you walk down the lane “We have the only truth” this is where it leads you.


  • kaalchakra
    Mar 21, 2012 - 7:05PM

    I hope all Muslim brothers and sisters join hands to make sure Islam is not blamed and no backlash occurs against our Muslim brothers and sisters.

    Muslims in France and Muslim with non-Muslim French friends and acquaintances, it’s your duty to convince all non-Muslims that Islam is not practiced by Muslims. It is what is in the Quran which is full of love, not hate.

    We will form a twitter group to launch such a campaign.


  • kaalchakra
    Mar 21, 2012 - 7:08PM

    Talat Haque

    Stop that! We don’t need such religious bigotry from you. This has nothing to do with Islam being the only perfect religion.


  • Mj
    Mar 21, 2012 - 7:30PM

    Supremacist ideologies often lead to such outcomes; which is why the suspect was initially thought to be a neo-Nazi or a Muslim extremist. But yes I agree, he was a deranged fanatic and the Muslim community should not be blamed for his actions.


  • kaalchakra
    Mar 21, 2012 - 7:39PM

    Mj, when these things happen, what is the first responsibility of all Muslims? It must be to defend all Muslims so no Muslim is hurt, and to make sure that the suspicion does not fall on the beautiful religion of Islam. We can do that by isolating the source of the blame, whatever it may be. If it is some crazy Muslim then he is clearly not following Islam in its true sense. We can’t let Islamophobia prevail so average people begin to oppose Islam thinking it is just another man-made thing!


  • lida
    Mar 21, 2012 - 7:52PM

    Alqaeda is KKK and NAzism of muslims.

    So we denounce these Fascists as this is not what muslims do.


  • some one
    Mar 21, 2012 - 8:05PM


    well said.


  • xzy
    Mar 21, 2012 - 9:10PM

    Would these very same moderate muslim scholars and some commenters here would’ve condemned the attack and denounced the attacker if he had been say a palestinian muslim?
    Why not such a stance for all such similar incidents where muslims kill innocent people of other faiths and justify their actions later.


  • John
    Mar 21, 2012 - 9:41PM


    How about isolating judaism and jews from israeli-palestine conflict??? It shouldn’t be like when its about you, you isolate the religion and when its about others, you include the religion.. What an hypocrite!!!


  • kaalchakra
    Mar 21, 2012 - 9:55PM


    Is anybody forcing you to follow Islam? To you your way, to us ours.


  • whoever
    Mar 21, 2012 - 10:14PM

    Again an Islamic fundamentalist spreading hatred


  • kaalchakra
    Mar 21, 2012 - 10:44PM


    We don’t remember you jumping up and down at the news of little Palestinian children being killed by Jews?


  • French muslim
    Mar 21, 2012 - 11:24PM

    @kaalchakra: “Is anybody forcing you to follow Islam? To you your way, to us ours”….If that is true, how come there are so many forced conversion of Hindus to Islam in Pakistan ? And how come the total minority group in Pakistan fell to meager 7 %. You can rant all you like, the truth is reflected by ground realities.


  • Salim Ansari
    Mar 21, 2012 - 11:30PM

    @kaalchakra: : Mj, when these things happen, what is the first responsibility of all Muslims?

    Your statement illustrates one of the reasons why people do not think well of Muslims in general. The concept of Ummah is applied selectively when it is most suited. So, when a Palestinian child is killed by Israel, the pain is felt by all Muslims because all Muslims are one Ummah, but when a member of the same Muslim Ummah goes and kills people of other religion, the Ummah dissolves into thin air and is nowhere to be found.

    So, can we lay down some rules and be consistent at all times ?


  • French muslim
    Mar 21, 2012 - 11:31PM

    @kaalchakra: Paletinian children are killed by Israeli. Yes they are jew majority but also have cristians and muslims in their community if you are not aware of. Similar to your arch rival India, their army has quite significant numbers of muslims in them, still our people conveniently call their army as Hindu army and Israeli army as Jew army. You very sentence reflects how religious centric you are while identifying your enemies. You yourself defied what you early on say that “To you your way, to us ours”……..while the truth is most of us muslims are quite intollerant against other religions and their practices and we are mostly associated with “Our way or the highway” mentality. Instead of defending how about finding the root of such fundamentalism and uprooting it and truly practice what our beautiful religion preaches. remember even not acting against those who malign our religion or bring it a bad name is as good as supporting them. So we the so called “liberal muslims” are equally guilty by our incapability to raise voice against such fundamental and extremist groups. Sooner or later, and I fear sooner we will face the wrath for our inactions in curbing our mad men.


  • Salim Ansari
    Mar 21, 2012 - 11:47PM

    @kaalchakra: Is anybody forcing you to follow Islam? To you your way, to us ours.

    The ground realities in most Muslim countries speak otherwise – including “liberal” Indonesia, Malaysia. It is okay to live in a self induced coma, but it foolish to expect people who are awake to not see things the way they actually are.


  • Iron hand
    Mar 22, 2012 - 1:09AM

    @kaalchakra: you want to spare Islam from blame, then you need to CHALLENGE THOSE MUSLIMS WHO INTERPRET ISLAM IN A WAY THAT PERMITS VIOLENCE AGAINST INNOCENT PEOPLE! Don’t preach to the non-muslims, preach to the Muslims who are practicing an intolerant, supremacist, violent brand of Islam. There are plenty of them in Pakistan. It’s not enought to sit back and claim that these people are not following the true Islam because THEY BELIEVE THEY ARE.


  • Cautious
    Mar 22, 2012 - 1:19AM

    Sometimes I wonder whether there are any terrorist who haven’t visited Pakistan? If your trying to get rid of your image as Jihad Central it’s not working — try harder.


  • j. von hettlingen
    Mar 22, 2012 - 3:35AM

    Yes, there are nation-wide condemnations of the killings and the Muslim community in France fears resentments. That’s why the presidential candidates and Nicolas Sarkozy himself are keeping a low profile, by not adding more fuels to the fire. They know they could be backfired for their free-riding.


  • Cynical
    Mar 22, 2012 - 4:52AM

    So this guy is a deranged fanatic and muslims should not be blamed for his act.
    I agree, honestly.
    But what about the American soldier who killed 17 Afghan civilians?
    Is he not a deranged fanatic for whom we should not blame the Americans?


  • softy
    Mar 22, 2012 - 5:52AM

    @Iron hand:
    Kalchakra (and his likes) won’t preach to the intolerant muslims. he know he wont survive the preaching (they will kick his * solid). It is much safer to preach the non muslims because there is no fear of backlash. Best way is to feign ignorance and claim that these muslims dont follow true islam. We are such hypocrites.


  • anon
    Mar 22, 2012 - 8:08AM


    .Love the headline. Not sure why the muslim community is perpetually in fear of nonexistent backlash from clearly existent atrocities. My guess is that they’ve learned that those sucker Christians/Jews will perpetually turn the other cheek giving them a new target virtually once a year at least. fortunately, they’ve got no such requirement in their religion, and their depraved postmodern liberal atheist enablers are so advanced, they’ve lost the evolutionary desire to continue their own existence at all.

    As was written by mark steyn: “apparently the really bad thing about actual dead Jews is that it might lead to dead non-Jews”


  • Super Star
    Mar 22, 2012 - 10:30AM

    All roads lead to Rome ! All terror leads to Pakistan!


  • Arif
    Mar 22, 2012 - 11:12AM

    Dont try to justy this brutal act by giving lame excusses.
    No body is allowed to take avenge even from the family members of a person made criminal act.
    How can anybody justify killing of inocent people in other country.
    Just think about those childerns (either french Jews or palestinian Muslims) who even dont know why they were killed.


  • Arjun
    Mar 22, 2012 - 11:39AM

    @Cynical: Oh ya,,, shall we start the number …for one incident by nonmuslim, it will be 20 for muslims. Yet another terrorist act in a country that allows these algerian muslims to come and work. What a shame!!! But is that a surprise?


  • Pakistaniat
    Mar 22, 2012 - 7:05PM

    @French muslim:
    You can also rant on what you like. No society is perfect. If there are forced conversions in Pakistan then that’s wrong and should be stopped. No society is perfect neither is yoursRecommend

  • Deb
    Mar 23, 2012 - 3:41AM

    Why only French Muslims are fearing a backlash? While French Christians,Shikhs,Jews,Hindus,atheists and assorted others, though worried, but not really expecting a backlash.
    I hope it’s not out of a guilt complex.


  • Wisdoomplanb
    Mar 23, 2012 - 10:14AM

    There is a good video in the Internet(youtube) for all people out there which only knows about Islam/muslims that they dont eat pork and pray more as us… :

    “3 thinks about Islam”

    the world must wake up, its not Islamophobia when the threat is real!
    Knowledge is the key!

    PS: Iam not a Neonazi, Communist, Jew or American!


  • Fren
    Mar 23, 2012 - 12:21PM

    @Pakistaniat: Agree…..but there are different level of imperfection. And there is a huge gap between us being imperfect vs you. Needless to say imperfection in your country and country men is countless. Something somewhere a Pakistani or Pakistani rained guy does and common muslims like me have to bear brunt and hateful eyes. Why is there no news where it does not show a muslim from Pakistan or trained in Pakistan is involved in terrorism ??? Sorry brother your country needs quite a lot of fixing. If your country dreams of being Ummah then you need to do quite a lot to bear such a responsibility. Protect your own people before thinking of protecting Kashmiris or muslims all over the world. By the way what you did to your fellow muslim brother and countrymen in Bangladesh is a well known fact


  • G. Din
    Mar 23, 2012 - 11:55PM

    @kaalchakra: to John
    “To you your way, to us ours. “
    Indeed! Your way is to kill innocents; our way, then, is to kill the killers! Isn’t that exactly what happened? It seems the problem is solved. End of discussion.

    We don’t remember you jumping up and down at the news of little Palestinian children being killed by Jews?”

    If and when Palestinian children are killed by Jews, it is always after the Palestinian adults and protectors of Palestinian children have killed Jewish women and children by sending rockets into Jewish towns..


  • Some One
    Mar 24, 2012 - 12:34AM

    @G Din

    You are a bigoted enemy of muslims. So no use arguing with you. The Israelis have unlawfully (with USA’s blessings) captured Palestinians Land. When they want to claim it back they are killed by Israelis.

    There are Millions of muslims in France and this one man is not representative of the muslim community nor of any muslim country’s govt or army.


  • Arijit Sharma
    Mar 24, 2012 - 6:39AM

    @Some One: “..The Israelis have unlawfully (with USA’s blessings) captured Palestinians Land

    The Palestinians are an invented people. Who do you think “Palestine” belonged to before it became a Muslim land ? The Jewish people. Please have some respect for a basic law of nature – ” jiski lathi uski bhains “.

    Other people deserve their chances … is there some rule that says Muslims must be at the top of the food chain for eternity ?Recommend

  • sumair
    Mar 24, 2012 - 8:40AM

    Muslims should recognize the state of israel for prosperity and peace. according to the Qur’an, no person, people or religious community can claim a permanent right of possession over any territory. The Earth belongs exclusively to God, and He is free to entrust sovereignty over land to whomever He likes for whatever time period that He chooses. The jewish land prophecy has already been fulfilled my friends that almighty god promised.


  • Maria
    Mar 24, 2012 - 10:45AM

    @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.


  • G. Din
    Mar 24, 2012 - 5:35PM

    “@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”?


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