10 years of the Merah attacks: Macron in Toulouse, with Sarkozy, Hollande and the President of Israel
Through Guillaume Laurent
In a month, Toulouse will plunge back into one of the most painful pages of its history: the attacks of Mohammad Merah. Ten years after the killings that had mourned the Pink City and Montauban, the ceremony planned Sunday, March 20, 2022 will take on a special character, three weeks before the first round of the presidential election, and while the context is still extremely heavy around anti-terrorism and anti-Semitism.
2,000 people announced
After a minute’s silence the day before at Place Charles de Gaullethe highlight of the commemorations will be held on Sunday.
Something 2,000 people are expected in the Pink City. Places under very high security, the ceremonies will be organized by the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France (Crif) Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées, with the assistance of the City, the Department, the Region and the State. They will essentially be held at the grain hall, but also in a more intimate register Ohr Torah school (formerly called Ozar Hatorah), indicates Frank Touboul, the president of CRIF Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées.
“This is the first ceremony since 2016 at school. I had indeed wanted to stop the major commemorative ceremonies, so that the Jewish community could find itself and rebuild itself”.
Macron, Herzog, Holland and Sarkozy
Many personalities will be present for the occasion, at the Halle aux Grains: a month after his visit for a major European meeting on Space, the President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron will return to the Pink City, alongsideIsaac Herzog, president of the state rejected since last July.
Other political figures are also announced, including two former Presidents of the Republic: Nicolas Sarkozy (who was at the Élysée at the material time) and Francois Hollande (who succeeded him a few weeks later). Franck Touboul also invited “all former prime ministers since 2012″: François Fillon, Jean-Marc Ayrault, Bernard Cazeneuve, Manuel Valls, and Édouard Philippe. Manuel Valls has already indicated that he would be there.
Anne Hidalgo, now a presidential candidate, should be present: she was invited as mayor of Paris, city heavily bruised by other Islamist attacks since.
Of course, the families of the victims of Merah will be present, with in particular Samuel Sandler, father and grandfather of a teacher and two children killed at the Jewish school, Latifa Ibn Ziaetnen, mother of the first soldier assassinated in Toulouse, Albert Chennouf-Meyer, father of another soldier killed in Montauban…
From there many representatives of the Jewish community will be, starting with the chief rabbi of France Haim Korsia, alongside members of other denominations, and ambassadors from different countries.
Laying of wreaths, meditation and theater on the program
Side programif the schedule is not fully set, Franck Touboul prepares a symposium at the Halle aux Grains, on the sidelines of the official commemorations. Two round tables of about forty minutes will be led by specialists and intellectuals (in particular Hugo Micheron, teacher-researcher specializing in jihadism and relations between France and the Middle East), as well as one, or even two masterful interventions.
During the symposium, the two Heads of State will visit Ohr Torah school to meet its director Yaacov Monsonégo – whose little girl had been murdered in the establishment – before laying a wreath there.
The exchanges will then continue at the Halle aux Grains with the personalities. Various speeches are assumed: those of the two Heads of State, but also of the President of CRIF, the Mayor, the President of the Department, and the President of the Region.
March 2012. Seven victims, and a week of horror
In 2012, Mohammed Merah had perpetrated a series of Islamist attacks in the region, and killed seven people: after having assassinated a soldier in Toulouse on March 11, then two others in Montauban on the 15th, he returned to the Pink City and his Roseraie district on March 19. It was there that he had murdered in front of the Jewish school Ozar Hatorah Jonathan Sandler, a 30-year-old teacher, and his two sons Aryeh, 5, and Gabriel, 3. In the school yard, he had carried out Myriam Monsonégo, 8, the principal’s daughter, and seriously injured a 15-year-old teenager.
“Facing reality, and avoiding divisions”
A few weeks before the presidential election, and while security is emerging as one of the main themes of the campaign, Franck Touboul wants this symposium to be an opportunity to bring together the question of living in public debate. He hopes that this event will make it possible to “work on factors of unity in our country” and thus to succeed in “fighting against radical Islamism, while preventing confusion and blindness, which leads to terrorism”.
“It’s been 10 years since these attacks took place and marked the beginning of the terrorist wave which hit the whole country, well beyond the Jewish community. In addition to the commemorations, this day will be a point of vigilance on what we have missed in the past. Three weeks before the first round, it is an opportunity to face this reality, but also to avoid divisions in our country, such as seeking extremes”.
Nicole Yardini, honorary president of CRIF, is on the same line: “The fact that Islamism has caused nearly 300 deaths on our territory can have no answer like neither cowardice, nor a total and absolute rejection of the other” . And the one who is now deputy mayor of Toulouse to be part of his “deep concern” to have “a 40% extreme right” in the country.
Singer Amir… in a play
Finally, note that at 8:30 p.m., the Halle aux Grains will host a national preview of a play entitled “The Auschwitz Swimmer” directed by Steve Suissa. It tells the story of the Toulouse swimming champion Alfred Nakache, Holocaust survivor, and “symbol of a return to life”, breathes Nicole Yardeni. This piece, which will be open to the public upon registration, has so far only been performed once in Tel Aviv (Israel), where it was “a great success”. The main actor, who plays Alfred Nakache, is a Franco-Israeli artist well known to the general public: the singer Amir.
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