France antisemitic threat: dozens more Merahs
Algeria – International human rights watchdog, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, has called on the French government to call a state of emergency due to the threat posed by terrorist groups to the country’s Jewish community, which is the largest in Europe.
The statement came after Islamist militant leader, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, whose al-Qaeda affiliated group is believed to have been behind the recent hostage-taking raid on an Algerian gas plant, singled out the Jewish community for retribution, promising that before long “there would be dozens of Mohammed Merahs” in France. The threat came in retaliation to Paris-led counterinsurgency efforts in Mali which aim to push out Muslim radicals who have taken over the north of the country.
Mohammed Merah was a French-born extremist who killed 3 Jewish children and a rabbi in a shooting spree last March, he was eventually shot dead by police while resisting arrest, since when he has been heralded as a martyr by Internet jihadists.
Shocking photographs have been posted to the on the Internet showing pro-Merah graffiti, in which he is hailed as “a valiant knight of Islam” who “fought zionism and false Muslims”.
He has also become a regular figure in songs by anti-Jewish amateur rap groups such as the Marseille duo, Ennemi d’Etat, with lyrics recounting Merah’s death in the manner of an epic saga.
The number of hate attacks against Jewish people has risen sharply over the last few years, a recent poll revealed that 40% of French citizens could be considered to hold antisemitic beliefs.