Mourners at funeral of Toulouse shooter Merah 370 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Bruno Martin)
PARIS – The first anniversary of the attacks in Toulouse during which a young
Franco-Algerian Islamist murdered three soldiers, three Jewish children and the
father of two of them, was marked by an evening of programs on Wednesday on the
France 3 television channel.
The evening consisted of a documentary
followed by a debate, then a second documentary. The first documentary, titled
The Merah Affair – The Itinerary of a Killer was transmitted during prime-time
television at 8:45 p.m. The documentary’s director, Jean-Charles Doria,
explained to the viewers during the following debate that he devoted eight
months to the tracing the details of the terrorist’s actions and movements: “We
had to reconstruct the crime as we were not allowed to transmit Merah’s own
video so as to respect the sensibilities and feelings of the victims’
It is this reconstruction of the events that has provoked an
outcry throughout France, from the families of the three soldiers killed and
from the Jewish families as well.
The emotional reaction was very
strongly felt in the Toulouse Jewish community. Its president, Arie Bensemhoun,
said on television during the debate he was shocked by the earlier
“One should not put on the same level the family of the
killer and families of the victims,” he said. “This documentary contributes to
the writing of the ‘legend’ of Merah who has become a symbol, and now he will
become a hero.”
Bensemhoun reminded everybody that Merah made a video of
his acts in order to glorify them in the eyes of certain elements of the
population and recruit future jihadists.
Albert Chennouf, whose son
Abel Chennouf, 24, was one one of the terrorist’s victims, also
participated in the discussion. He underlined the importance of education in
preventing any “new Merahs,” and said the deaths at the Ozar Hatorah School
could have been avoided if the security service had acted
The second documentary, Pièce à conviction (“Evidence”) (52
minutes), was broadcast after the debate at 10:30 p.m. and investigated the
failures of the secret service.
On Monday, France 3 will devote another
television evening to the impact of the Merah affair within the Jewish community
On March 17, an official memorial for the victims will be held
at the Place du Capitole in Toulouse.