The older brother of Mohamed Merah, the French islamist who committed the March massacres in Toulouse and Montauban insisted in a one-on-one conversation with French Jewish umbrella organisation CRIF president Richard Prasquier that he has “fought against anti-Semitism for the last 18 years”, according to French weekly magazine Le Point.
Abdelghani Merah, 35, older brother of the al-Qaeda sympathiser who murdered three Jewish children and one of their fathers in Toulouse in March, told how another brother Kader – questioned by police on suspicion of complicity in his brother Mohamed’s crimes – is “profoundly anti-Semitic”, having tried to stab him in 2003.
“All this,” described Abdelghani, “because I adopted the Jewish heritage of my wife, the granddaughter of a deported Jew. I have fought against anti-Semitism for the last 18 years, to show that there’s no difference between us (Muslims and Jews).”
“Mohamed,” he emphasised, “is responsible for his own actions, but he’s also a victim of indoctrination. Kader, who introduced him to radicalism, holds a great deal of responsibility.”
Abdelghani Merah, who says he is equally “very touched” by Jewish suffering during WWII, claims “it’s essential to censor the words of (Muslim spiritual leaders) Imams who, in reality are no such thing: they go to the suburbs and preach hatred, which is not (a) Muslim (concept)”.
In response to Abdelghani, who aimed to express his solidarity and compassion for the victims of his brother’s murderous attacks, CRIF president Richard Praquier declared that “in this tragedy, you provide hope. Your declarations show that there’s no prescribed evil”.
The Jewish representative leader remains convinced that anti-Semitism “is the preserve of a minority, but that doesn’t reassure anyone. In the history of the last century, it was the ideological minority that espoused the most murderous theories, (as demonstrated by) the example of Nazism.
In an interview posted to the CRIF’s website, Prasquier underlined that there’s never been an attack on mosques or violent incident perpetuated by Jews. “It always happens in one direction,” he added.
“I constantly repeat that we mustn’t preach Islamophobia, but I don’t put Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in the same camp: they are two completely different things. That is precisely the problem, (we have to) treat things as what they are and not idealise them.”
“The problem is also knowing who and what influences these youths on the path to radicalisation. And that’s not an easy question to answer. Even if it’s never certain that the discourse of one or other Muslim (preacher) will be a deciding factor, it’s still important to understand what they’re saying,” he concluded.