A monstrous crime was committed by a person in the French city of Toulouse, after he got off his motor scooter and headed for the door of the Jewish school. There, he pulled out a 9 mm pistol and killed Jonathan Sandler, a religion teacher, and his sons Gavriel and Aryeh, and a girl named Miriam Monsenego. The killer was able to flee the scene.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that, based on the available information, that the same person killed two French soldiers in Montauban; they were Muslims of North African origin, Abel Chennouf and Mohamad Legouad.
Until Tuesday, no one in France was aware of the killer’s identity, whether it was an individual act by a horrific murderer, or the work of a right-wing extremist, or someone from a violent Islamic group.
This hateful criminal act, which has affected any person who sees children and their innocent father falling victim to the insanity of murder and barbarity, can only be interpreted as a desire by the killer to sow violence and terror.
The Socialist Party’s candidate for the French presidency, Francois Hollande, quickly labeled the crime as an act of anti-Semitism, without waiting to learn the killer’s identity.
Of course, the school is a Jewish one, and the victims – the children and the religion teacher – are also Jews.
The perpetrator might be an extremist right-wing Nazi – or, as some press reports maintained, the police believe it likely that he could also be from the violent Islamist political current.
But the same person also killed Muslim soldiers. If it was the work of a person from the Nazi right-wing current, it would be an act of insanity, not anti-Semitism, and a crime against humanity.
If the killer is an Islamist extremist from the violent tendency, the crime is against all humanity, and not just the Jews; it is also against Islam, and Christianity, and all the world’s religions.
Is it a violent Islam that kills children and innocents and claims to be Islamic?
Such barbaric acts are against religion, and human values. Those who commit such crimes in the name of Islam are murderous infidels. Many French people of Arab origin are hoping that the killer does not belong to any Islamic group, because this would damage the image of Islam and the Arabs in France.
No normal person could commit such a crime. If the murderer is an Islamic extremist, he wants to see discord in a country that has secular laws, and respects all religions. There is already enough social tension in France between North African immigrant communities, without this insane act being added to it. If the act was the work of a person who claims to be Muslim, it will increase tension and division among the French. There are five million Muslims who live securely in their secular country, but they often suffer from oppression in a number of instances that are unnecessary, such as the use of halal meat as a topic in the presidential campaign by Marlene Le Pen, or the issue of the burka.
These issues increase tension in French society, which should be kept distant from sectarian tension, since the state is distinguished by its secularism. The crime against Jewish children and their father is a universal crime, not just against a Jewish school; it is a craven attack against innocents by a murderer and for all of these reasons, it is hoped that it was not committed under the banner of Islam.
Randa Takieddine is a prominent columnist at Dar al-Hayat, where this article first appeared March 21, 2012