Jews and Muslims must show unity against jihadists
Forensics officers examining the crime scene outside Ozar Hatorah school
"God forbid that the recent killer of Jewish children and a rabbi in France be a Muslim or of Arab descent," I tweeted a day before the French authorities named Mohamed Merah as the prime suspect in last week's terrorist atrocity. People on Twitter responded to me saying: "He also killed Muslims". And yes, he did - but it does not take away from the severity of the killer's antisemitism that led to him target Ozar Hatorah school and killing Rabbi Jonathan Sandler and the blessed children he was trying to protect.
What was their crime? Miriam Monsonego, aged 7, was killed in cold blood as the murderer grabbed her by her hair to shoot her in the head. She was the headmaster's daughter. Rabbi Sandler's two sons, Gabriel and Arieh, aged four and five, were killed too.
I remember their names because I am a father of two young daughters, aged two and four - I can imagine no greater torment in life than to lose our children, and worse, to have them killed before our eyes. My sympathies and prayers are with the parents and Jewish communities globally who continue to suffer at the hands of butchers who take antisemitism to its logical conclusion.
The self-proclaimed al-Qaeda jihadist who committed these heinous acts did not only hate Jews. He and his ilk equally abhor their fellow Muslims who are integrated, pluralist, and do not harbour Jew-hatred. Merah slaughtered Jewish children, but before that he also killed proud French Muslims who served in their nation's armed forces: Sergeant Imad Ibn Ziaten, Corporal Abed Chennouf, Private Mohamed Legouad.
The cancer that is takfiri thinking - the jihadist declaration that people like me or other normal Muslims are not Muslims because we do not share their extremism - underpins this terrorist violence. It is a fact that al-Qaeda has killed more Muslims in Iraq, Pakistan and elsewhere than it has non-Muslims. To the violent Salafist jihadi, the majority of Muslims are misguided, deviant and a barrier to creating their dream of a global caliphate.
In these testing times, it is vital that Jews and Muslims demonstrate togetherness against the common enemy. Mahmoud Abbas, for all his faults, was swift to demand that terrorists stop using the Palestinian cause to justify their evil. French-Muslim leaders have rallied around Jewish communities. What starts as refusing to honour the dead at Holocaust Memorial Day, leads to dehumanising Jewish and other deaths, and then to producing men like Mohamed Merah who in cold blood kill children and other innocents.
Ed Husain is author of 'The Islamist' and a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations