Sunday, March 25, 2012

Islamic terror is alive in France

Boaz Bismuth

Mohamed Merah, who brutally murdered seven people between March 11 and 19, including a Jewish teacher and three small children, shows France that Islamic terror is alive and well, and even committing murder in its midst.

Merah may have had accomplices. He also had supporters, as one can see from the demonstration organized in his memory on Saturday. One French teacher even asked her students to observe a minute of silence in his honor, as if he were one of the unfortunate children he gunned down in cold blood. These people are a minority, of course, just like the jihadis are a minority. But look at what a minority can do. In 1990s France, when there were a wave of attacks, there were always those willing to defend the young people lacking an education and a future who carried out attacks for the Algerian GIA, because, they argued, it was almost their only option. This explanation is similar to the one given to French media concerning Palestinian suicide bombers during the Intifada. French President Nicolas Sarkozy rightly refuses to rationalize acts of terror.

France of spring 2012 is preparing for elections. It strongly condemns what happened in Toulouse and refuses to discuss the socioeconomic factors that led a young, Algerian immigrant from a working-class neighborhood to turn to terror.

As much as France would rather not bring up the subject because it strengthens extreme Right candidate Marine Le Pen, it understands the problem and knows that it must be dealt with.

France’s government is aware of the fact that following the murder of Osama Bin Laden in May 2011, jihadis returned to French soil. They returned with gusto, filled with hatred for the country that absorbed their parents. And most importantly, the jihadis returned with military training. Like classic Salafi jihadis, their goal is to change the face of French society. They have no desire whatsoever to be absorbed.

Mohamed Merah is not alone. Young people like him are hiding all over the cities of Marseilles, Paris, Lyon and their suburbs. For them, a little Jewish girl is not a little girl, but rather a symbol that must be wiped from the earth.

Just as with the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, one can find conspiracy theories about Merah’s death on the Internet. One French site, called Alterinfo, says that Merah was shot to death rather than captured alive as part of a Mossad plot. Bin Laden may have died, but his teachings live on. They are alive, kicking, and even committing murder.

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