Imams from France and other countries gathered on Wednesday at the Toulouse Jewish school where an al-Qaeda linked jihadist murdered three children and a teacher in March 2012, as part of a Muslim march against terror, which began on Saturday in Paris.
The march, which plans to visit other sites of terror attacks in France, was organized by Hassen Chalghoumi, the imam of Drancy in Paris, and the French Jewish writer Marek Halter.
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.
Some 30 French, German and Tunisian imams met Myriam Monsonego’s father Jacob Monsonego, the principal of Otzar Hatorah, as well as representatives of the Jewish community in Toulouse a
In the courtyard of the school, the imams prayed in front of a memorial to the victims and displayed a banner reading “Muslims march against terrorism” in Arabic, German, French and English.
“We are here as imams, as Muslims, in order to show our sympathy and our solidarity. We say that what has been done in the name of our religion is not the true face of our religion,” said Imam Mohamed Taha Sabri from Berlin.
“I believe strongly in these symbolic gestures,” said Halter. “A man holds out his hand to another and their relationship changes.”
“The most important image we have given is that we all gather together,” Chalghoumi said.
Chalghoumi is known for his strong stand against fundamentalist Islam and for his friendship with the Jewish community, which earned him criticism and threats.
“We believe that there are many Muslim and non-Muslim citizens who support us because our project is peace and fraternity… Next year you will see, the French Council of Muslims will join us,” said Hocine Drouiche, imam of Nimes.
The march is scheduled to end in Paris on July 14, which is Bastille Day. A visit to Nice, the scene of a truck attack on July 14, 2016 that left 86 dead, was forced to be canceled over security concerns.