Insisting on a separate memorial service for her son, the mother of a French Muslim soldier killed by jihadist Mohammed Merah near Toulouse five years ago skipped a commemoration at a Jewish school on Friday for all the victims of that terrorist.
Latifa Ibn Ziaten, who has campaigned together with French Jews against radicalism, told the news agency AFP that she stayed away from the main official ceremony in memory of the seven people killed by Merah in 2012 because her son Imad and two other soldiers were not given a separate military service on the five-year anniversary of their murder.
On March 19, 2012, Merah killed four Jews at the Otzar Hatorah school in Toulouse, three of whom were children: Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, his two sons, Gabriel and Arieh, and Myriam Monsonego. These killings followed his murder on March 11 of Imad Ibn Ziaten near the city and of two other French-Muslim soldiers, Abel Chennouf and Mohamed Legouad, on March 15. Police killed Merah on March 22.
“My son died because he was military but no one pays him homage on March 11,” said Ibn Ziaten. “Nobody thinks of the soldiers.”
Toulouse Mayor Jean-Luc Moudenc and Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux attended the main ceremony for all victims at the school Sunday. “Like you, the Republic will never forget. She will remember her children lost in the night of terror in Toulouse and Montobaun,” Le Roux said, naming the suburb where Merah killed the soldiers.
Pinchas Goldschmidt, the chief rabbi of Moscow and the president of the Conference of European Rabbis, has said that the attack in Toulouse was the onset of a “new wave of terrorism designed to intimidate Europe and its Jews.”
Hundreds of people have died in France and Belgium in several Islamic terror attacks since 2012. Of those, at least three were designed to kill Jews or Israelis. In 2014, four people were killed in one such attack at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels. The following year four Jews were killed on the eastern outskirts of Paris at a branch of the Hyper Cacher chain of kosher supermarkets.