A 12-year-old boy was beaten by youths shouting anti-Semitic phrases outside the Jewish school he attends in Paris on Monday, even though security around Jewish schools and synagogues in France has been increased after Mohammed Merah killed three children and a rabbi last week outside the Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse in southwestern France. The boy was beaten in Paris as he left his school according to the Associated Press via the New York Times; he was about 100 meters from the school, out of sight from police, when the assault occurred.
The attack makes it all too clear that tensions remain high in France after the killings.
Merah, who was shot dead after a 32-hour siege last week, had filmed himself killing seven people including three French paratroopers in southwestern France. On Monday, the Paris bureau of Al-Jazeera received a video entitled “Al-Qaeda Attaque la France [Al-Qaeda Attacks France]” that appears to contain footage of the three attacks. Al-Jazeera, which is based on Qatar, has said that it will not air the video and issued a statement that the video did not include any information that was not already in the public domain, and that it does not accord with the station’s “code of ethics for broadcast.”
French president Nicholas Sarkozy had sent out a “public plea” for the video not to be shown, says the BBC, and vowed that he would “do all he could to block the transmission of the video should any other media outlet attempt to show it.” Relatives of those killed aired the same pleas. Imad Ibn Ziaten, the mother of the first paratrooper killed, told AFP that “My son was killed, a 30-year-old child and people want to show it as if it were a film. Please, I can’t see that.”
The videos were sent on a USB memory drive to Al-Jazeera in a package posted last Wednesday, March 21, when French police had surrounded Merah in his apartment in Toulouse. The package had been posted from outside of Toulouse and also contained a “letter written in poor French with spelling and grammar errors” dated March 21. Al-Jazeera’s Paris bureau chief, Zied Tarrouche, said that the video had “clearly been manipulated after the fact, with religious songs and recitations of Quranic verses laid over the footage.” Police are trying to determine who sent the package, Merah himself or an accomplice.
Al Jazeera also reports that, according to a Paris mosque, Merah’s family has decided to have him buried in Algeria, “to avoid a grave in France being attacked or becoming a place of pilgrimage.” Merah’s father, Mohamed Benalel Merah , described as “estranged” from him and living in Algeria, has reportedly said that he wants to file a lawsuit about his son’s death against France. Sarkozy said that he learned of this complaint “with indignation” and that “”Do we need to remind this man that his son filmed his crimes and diabolically made sure to send these despicable images to a television station?”.
French anti-terrorist judges are deliberating about whether to charge Abdelkader, Merah’s brother, as an accomplice, and whether anyone else was involved. Sarkozy has said that Merah was not part of a terrorist cell.
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Photo: AP/Jacque Brinon