A statement on the murders in Toulouse and Montauban from the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF).
A murderer has struck down seven people in cold blood, in an organised, premeditated way: three soldiers, two of them Muslims, and a Jewish father and three children, shot at point-blank range.
While their families mourn the dead, it is vital that we do not conflate the issues, but remember that there is nothing that resembles anti-Semitism more closely than Islamophobia. The killer was motivated by hatred rather than ideology, plunging the whole of France into grief with his outburst of callous violence.
The extreme reactions on the part of politicians and the media, which in a few hours put an end to the truce ‘for dignity’s sake’ that the candidates in the presidential elections had claimed to be observing, are worth careful analysis. For the moment, it is important that everyone shows the greatest possible degree of calm and restraint in what they say and the positions they take.
People sometimes ask questions that are not really questions. For example, should we condemn the murders that have been committed? Who would answer that question in any way but the affirmative? Who could not be affected by the violence of these acts and the murder of innocent people?
Of course we have to condemn these acts and feel outrage at them. But we also have to question the elements making up that outrage, which are sometimes too variable. Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, has pointed to other parts of the world where innocent children lose their lives without attracting the same international expressions of solidarity. In the face of that, we must show unambiguous support for the victims’ families, without ethnic or religious distinctions, and rather than indulging in taking extreme and divisive positions, ask a number of questions that will help us to deal positively with this tragedy.
Despite the renewal of an election campaign that is in danger of sinking into Islamophobic hysteria, we have to be able to think (as the Norwegians did following the massacres in Oslo and Utøya) about what it is in our country that could have led to such a situation and, if we have respect for those who have lost their lives, to make sure we change the climate of hatred that led to this tragedy. The CCIF therefore calls for vigilance, given the possible recrudescence of Islamophobic acts, and makes the point that the Muslim community must not become its principal collateral victim.
Our thoughts are also with the two sole survivors of this tragedy, and with their families.