France | Shimon Peres calls for Peace before the Imams of France

Saturday, March 16, 2013
Shimon Peres

As part of a European tour, Israeli President Shimon Peres met twenty imams and French Muslim leaders on Sunday. On the eve of the commemoration of the murders committed by Mohammed Merah, Peres came to deliver a message of peace between people and religions. Merah killed three Muslim soldiers, a professor and three Jewish children in March 2012 in the region of Toulouse.

"Toulouse was certainly a turning point, because he who wanted to kill showed the most hideous face of crime," said the Israeli President. "Our everyday fight is against fundamentalism and violence. We are the first victims of fundamentalism."

At the end of the meeting, Peres said he was "very impressed" by the "courage" of Muslim leaders who came to Israel to denounce the crimes against their own communities and against the Jewish community. Many of them had traveled to Israel and the Palestinian territories last year after the acts of murderous madness by Mohammed Merah.

France has the largest Jewish community in Western Europe (between 500,000 and 700,000 people), but also the largest Muslim community (more than 5 million members).

On Monday, the defense minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, posthumously awarded the Legion d'Honneur to paratrooper Ibn Imad Ziaten, who was killed on 11 March 2012, the first victim of Mohammed Merah. A plaque was also unveiled in Toulouse, at the scene of Ibn Ziaten’s assassination.

-Violaine Badie


Plaidoyer du président israélien pour la paix devant des imams de France (Gabrielle Grenz, Agence France-Presse)


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