|"A teacher comforts a school child as they observe a minute of silence at a Jewish school in Paris to pay tribute to the four victims killed by a gunman at a Jewish school in Toulouse, March 20, 2012." Photo Credit: Reuters.|
By killing seven French citizens, the suspect in the tragic Toulouse murders, Mohamed Merah, has sought—in his own words—to “bring France to its knees.” Merah reportedly joined the Islamist group Forsane Alizza (Knights of Pride), whose primary goal is to “protect the honor of Muslim women.” Now that the suspect has been killed, the central point will not be whether Al Qaeda or any other terrorist group claim responsibility for the attack—this is now about our responsibility as global civil society. We, non-Muslims and Muslims across ethnic, religious, and ideological divides, must stand up and speak out against terrorism. We cannot afford to be silent bystanders—a self-styled jihadist cannot be allowed to question our values that create a common bond of humanity. As Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor, once said, there are only two categories of people: good and evil. Now is the moment not only to choose where we belong, but also to take action and to defend our values and beliefs. Earlier on Wednesday, President Sarkozy called on his fellow citizens "to unite together to show that terrorism will not be able to fracture our national community." We must extend this call to action beyond national boundaries to all of humanity.
The question “who was Mohamed Merah,” whom experts describe as a lone wolf and an Al Qaeda jihadi, the nice young next-door-neighbor who turned into an ideologically-driven killing machine, will occupy police and terrorism analysts for many years to come. We at Women without Borders/SAVE believe we have to broaden the analytical spectrum of community and family-based approaches to prevention.