Tuesday, April 03, 2012

3-Apr-12: After Toulouse

Huguette Chomski Magnis is the Secretary General of Mouvement Pour la Paix et Contre le Terrorisme, and spokesperson of the International Alliance Against Terrorism. Her guest blog appears here at our request, with gratitude for her tireless activism in the struggle against terror and its proponents.

Thoughts from France: Terrorism and resistance                
Huguette Chomski Magnis
Toulouse, March 2012

On the morning of Monday, March 19, 2012, a man called Mohamed Merah grabbed a child, Myriam Monsonego, by the hair. The seconds that followed were an eternity of suffering for the terrified little girl whom he dragged along the ground and then murdered by means of a gunshot to the head.

In doing this, Merah carried out an act of resistance.

We are shocked by such a statement? We cough, we hesitate, we find this a bit exaggerated. 

We find it scandalous that a certain French schoolteacher asked her students to observe a minute’s silence in memory of the child-killer, Merah.   

We stress that almost everyone who matters in France unreservedly condemned his horrifying actions. And this, of course, is true and as it should be.   

But does this mean civil society has satisfied its obligations, and is thereby relieved of further self-examination?   

Is it so extraordinary that one of the lost children of our republic murdered three unarmed French soldiers? All three were of North African origin. Were their deaths an accident? Or did Merah and his accomplices target them as ‘traitors’ on the assumption that they had fought the Taliban?   

Is it so extraordinary that – unable to find a soldier to murder on that Monday – he turned his attentions to the natural alternative: Jewish children, a Jewish school? Have not Jewish children been considered a legitimate target by many whom «those who matter in the world» judge as respectable? 

The call to murder Jews – with no minimum age – is a recurring theme in the broadcasts and sermons of the Tunisian Salafists. The Tunisian authorities remain silent in the face of this murderous hatred.   

A similar message, only slightly more disguised, also exists in the ranks of Egypt’s Moslem Brotherhood with which France’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United States administration are approving of «dialogue», regarding it as interesting and promising.   

It also exists in the Charter of Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Moslem Brotherhood, and the party that claims responsibility for countless massacres of Israeli children – they praise such massacres as glorious acts of resistance.

They are hardly alone. The Popular Resistance Committees and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a unit of Yasser Arafat’s Fatah, among others, do the same.   

Appallingly, even the official television station of the Palestinian Authority recently broadcast a sermon by the PA-appointed Mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad Hussein, calling for more killing of Jews. [Source]   

Is the slaughter at the Jewish school in Toulouse worse than the horrifying May 2004 massacre of the Hatuel family: a pregnant mother and her four daughters aged from 9 years old to two?  The mis-named Palestinian Popular Resistance Committees claimed this as one of its heroic military achievements!

Is Toulouse worse than the massacre in Itamar a year ago in which the Fogel family was decimated: both parents and three of their five children, the youngest of whom was three months old?   

No, it is not worse. The reality is that Itamar is Toulouse.   

But we shall be told that what happens in France, by comparison with events far away, affects us to a much larger extent – and this is a thousand times right. The massacre in Toulouse has stunned us. We are still struggling to recover.   

But there is a problem here that cannot be swept under the rug.

There are very «proper» people, not in the least of immigrant background, who found that we made too much of these Jewish children who, although French, were also Israeli and buried in Israel, while the children of Gaza… suggestive suspension dots.

Little wonder that Baroness Catherine Ashton, a luminary among luminaries, found it necessary to associate the memory of the murdered children of Toulouse with the children of Gaza whose blood Mohamed Merah claimed to be avenging.

The children of Gaza have been turned into archetypical victims.   

Let us then talk of the children of Gaza – with a sad and loving thought for the unhappy children killed in the war of 2009.   

I do not know how many they were. Nor does anybody in France know. The figures of Hamas – a thoroughly unreliable source of information – have systematically been accepted.   

But to allow people to believe that Israeli army soldiers deliberately targeted those children, as did Mohamed Merah and his countless terrorist predecessors, is dishonest. Those poor children were civilian victims of war, not the targets of that war.

Dare one ask how many Libyan children were unintentionally killed by NATO bombs during their intervention? Do we even know? Were we given civilian casualty figures for that war?   

The blood-drenched dictator Gaddafi caused a great many casualties in the course of his regime’s collapse.   

Propaganda was the answer and that was correct. It was explained that he used his civilians as human shields. Again, that was correct.
But then, what has Hamas done but use its civilian population, children first, as human shields? The difference is that the Hamas has achieved an extraordinary resonance in our media.   

To oversimplify an extremely complex conflict led to mythology replacing reality; assumptions instead of analyses; propaganda instead of objective information.
The devastating result is total confusion.   

If the French icon Stephane Hessel supports Hamas and gives it the title of resistance fighters, then is it not feasible to implement Hamas methods into France?
This is something that humanists should question. 

So now what? 

Jihadism has landed in France. Merah’s death is in no sense its epilogue. 

For us simple citizens, our concern is neither the jihadists, nor the instrumentalities of State intelligence nor security. Our concern is with the reaction of civil society. Is civil society up to this challenge? 

Why are we not able to do what the Moroccans did after the attacks? Articulate with a clear voice: NO TO TERRORISM. 

The will to defend French republican society should not lead us to self-censorship. On the contrary.   

During the march that took place on the evening of the massacre on Monday, March 19, everyone around me, my comrades in the struggle against racism as well as a prominent lawyer, were categorical: the murderer was a neo-Nazi. The notion that he might be an Islamist was im-po-ssible.  Responsibility might lie with the foul ideas of the National front, or even of the government.  

Why is our reaction not just as clear when the alternative view, the “impossible” theory, is confirmed?   

Why are we asked to avoid speaking of Islamic extremism,  so as not to stigmatize Islam?

This is not what democrats in North Africa and the Middle East expect from us, especially those in Tunisia courageously fighting the rise of the salafists tolerated by the Ennahda regime. 

Pointing to the responsibility of Islamism - political Islam - that oppresses and kills Muslims first of all, enables one to distinguish it from spiritual Islam and the right of worship guaranteed to all citizens.   

There is a dangerous confusion. To illustrate: We know that Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, was invited to address a rally of the UOIF on April 6. Responding to the voices of protest after the Toulouse horror, Nicolas Sarkozy said Qaradawi was not welcome in France.   

The edifying reaction of a certain researcher associate of Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales was that he could not understand the ban. For him, Qaradawi is simply a moderate supporter of the Palestinian cause and of its right to resist, not in solidarity with jihadist movements. [Source]

The researcher should have investigated more carefully. Qaradawi, the so-called moderate, is the author of the hallmark treatise on Islamic law, “The licit and the illicit in Islam”, and a man who prominently glorified the assassins of Sadat.    

Yes, he condemned the London tube bombings; a necessity in order to acquire a position of authority in Europe!   

But he published a justification for suicide bombing attacks on Israeli civilians of all ages. He issued a fatwa allowing to "kill Jewish embryos in the womb of their mothers because once born and grown up, they become soldiers of the IDF". [Source]   

So are we really a «republic united against terrorism»?   

Far from it, unfortunately.

Either condemnation of terrorism is universal or it does not exist.  

Paris - March 27, 2012 (Translation: Bernice Dubois)

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