June 2, 2014
Following the recent arrest of Mehdi Nemmouche, a 29-year-old Frenchman who is the primary suspect of the Brussels Jewish Museum shooting, Franco-Muslim leaders fear the shift towards jihad by radical Islamists in France.
Nemmouche visited Syria in December 2012 immediately after being released from prison. He was apprehended on May 30 in Marseille and was arrested for possession of an AK-47 and a revolver. The incident recalled the Jewish community’s fear after the 2012 shooting at a Jewish day school in Toulouse by Mohamed Merah, a radical Islamist.
Mehdi Nemmouche’s arrest reveals “the recurring gravity of anti-Semitic jihadist acts of terrorism,” says Dalil Boubakeur, rector of the Great Mosque of Paris. In a recent statement, Boubakeur maintained that “The repetition of these acts worries the Jewish and Muslim communities. One, the direct victim of these attacks and the other, a powerless witness before therecrudescence of young jihadists recruited in prison and quickly indoctrinated by both the Web and by terrorist networks.”
Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the Union of Mosques in France (UMF) believes that the Brussels shooting “maintains the moral suffering of French Muslims who are faced with the unbearable exploitation of their religion by extremists of all kinds.” Moussaoui openly condemned the shooting and spoke of his hatred for religious radicalism, which “disfigures the image of Islam and of Muslims.” In response to the shooting he called upon Muslim leaders to organize initiatives against such radicalism.
These initiatives will serve to “mobilize the imams and chaplains of France and will facilitate a profound and serious reflection on the causes and the actions of these deviations that threaten our living together.”