French TV commemorates Toulouse attacks

Documentaries and debates fill evening of programs following first anniversary of attacks on Jewish children in France.

Mourners at funeral of Toulouse shooter Merah 370 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Bruno Martin)
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 AffairThe 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’ families.”
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 documentary.
“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 Cpl.
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 differently.
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 in France.
On March 17, an official memorial for the victims will be held at the Place du Capitole in Toulouse.