French Jewish leader hails Hollande, Netanyahu visit to Toulouse killing site
President François Hollande’s visit to pay tribute to the victims of Toulouse killer Mohamed Merah is an “extraordinary gesture”, The head of France’s leading Jewish group told RFI Thursday. Along with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Hollande was to visit the Jewish school where Merah killed three students and a rabbi during the day.
“The attack that took place was an attack against the values of France,” Richard Prasquier of the Crif coalition of Jewish groups said ahead of the visit. “And that’s what very significant and symbolic because the state of Israel also has to face up to these radical Islamist movements, which are a danger not only to Jews but to all our societies.”
Merah was identified as a “lone-wolf killer” after he went on a killing rampage in Toulouse and nearby Montauban. But leaks since his death at the hands of French police have shown that he had been identified as a possible threat by secret services, who did not act on the reports, and that he went to jihadi training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Hollande’s visit is a sign that Merah’s attack on the Ozar Hatorah school was an attack on the “national community”, Prasquier said.
“We should never forget that the same man killed French soldiers who were not soldiers, some of whom were Muslims,” he pointed out.