Church leader condemns terror after French killings
Published 22 March 2012
The head of the World Council of Churches has condemned violence against religious and ethnic minorities after a spate of murders in southern France.
A 32-hour siege ended in Toulouse today after a police sniper shot dead Mohamed Merah.
The 23-year-old claimed to have carried out three separate attacks in which three soldiers and four people at a Jewish school were killed.
The victims at the school included a rabbi, his two sons, and another child, all of whom were laid to rest in Jerusalem.
According to news reports, Merah claimed that the killings were in retaliation for French military intervention abroad and to “avenge Palestinian children”.
Merah, a French citizen of Algerian descent, claimed to have travelled to Pakistan for training with al-Qaeda.
He was killed after a masked French SWAT team stormed the apartment in Toulouse where he had been hiding.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said an investigation was underway to determine whether Merah had accomplices.
Mr Sarkozy described the gunman as a “monster” but appealed to citizens not to stigmatise moderate Muslims as a result of Merah’s actions.
“Our Muslim compatriots had nothing to do with the crazy motive of a terrorist,” he said.
The general secretary of the World Council of Churches, the Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit condemned the murders.
He said in a statement: “The WCC forcefully condemns acts of violence targeted at particular groups on account of their religion or ethnicity.
“We consider that this is terror against all of us, and should be condemned particularly by all of us who worship the one God, the Creator of all.”