A burning car was rammed into a synagogue door in the southwest city of Toulouse, as France’s Interior Minister convened Muslims, Jews, and police in Paris to warn against contagion from the Gaza conflict. It was not clear whether the incident Monday night was a reflection of frustrations in France as Mideast tensions rise. France has western Europe’s largest Muslim and Jewish communities.
Nevertheless Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said she was concerned about the prospect of contagion. Alliot-Marie held a meeting with the heads of the two main Muslim and Jewish groups and police officials to stress the need to “preserve national unity” so that the conflict between Israel and Hamas, the militant Palestinian group ruling Gaza, did not feed passions in France. Damage to the synagogue in the Bagatelle neighborhood in Toulouse was limited to a blackened door, and there were no injuries even though a rabbi was giving a course to adults inside, said an official of the regional prefecture, Anne-Gaelle Baudouin.
French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) President Mohammed Moussaoui also responded stating, “We strongly condemn the attack against the synagogue in Toulouse, but we must not panic.” Moussaoui called for religious organizations to “show restraint, even if the Palestinian cause has a particular resonance for Muslims.”
President Nicolas Sarkozy, meanwhile, was on a two-day mission to the Middle East hoping to encourage a temporary cease-fire between Israel and the militant Hamas organization ruling Gaza.