23. On Egyptian press handling of the terrorist attack on a Jewish school incident in France

Article summary: 

The coverage of the Egyptian press on the March 19 terrorist attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse, France, was not front-page news for al-Ahrām, al-Masā’ and Akhbār Misr Website but was reported in inside pages. Other print media neglected the attack which had left a rabbi who was the school’s Hebrew teacher, his two children of 6 and 3 years old, and a 8-year old girl dead. No official or unofficial Islamic organization in Egypt has issued any condemnation despite many previous Muslim fatwás prohibiting the killing of human beings, even if they are not Muslims. Akhbār Misr Website said that he was Muslim but other newspapers confined to only mentioning that he is of Arab or Algerian descent. They highlighted that the gunman belongs to al-Qaeda organization.

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According to al-Ahrām, Mirāh told his police negotiators that he killed three French soldiers one week earlier and four in a Jewish school in revenge for Israel killing Palestinian children and in response for the French army’s participation in the war on Afghanistan. [Author not mentioned, al-Ahrām, March 21, 2012, p. 1] Read original text in Arabic 

Najāh ‘Abd al-Na’īm wrote in al-Ahrām, March 25, that Mirāh had first opened fire on a soldier of Arab descent on March 11, leaving him killed, and on March 15 killed three soldiers of the French paratroop division in the city of Montauban but said “the media did not the give the issue due attention” until the Rabbi and three Jewish children were killed at the Jewish school.

Najāh ‘Abd al-Na’īm also stated that there has been a deluge of statements of condemnation of the incident, not only at home where presidential candidates used the issue as a rich material for their campaigns, but also internationally as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the Vatican denounced it and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu termed it as “anti-Semitic”. [Najāh ‘Abd al-Na’īm, al-Ahrām, March 25, 2012]  Read original text in Arabic 

Akhbār Misr Website said that the French Interior Minister Claude Gueant announced a raid on a person suspected of involvement in the murders and said that he is a 24-year-old French man of Arab (Algerian) descent of the name Muhammad Mirāh. [Author not mentioned, Akhbār Misr Website, April 1, 2012] Read original text in Arabic 

Al-Ahrām said that Gueant stated Mirāh’s affiliation to the network of al-Qaeda and Salafī groups and has been known to French intelligence circles because he has been living in border areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan that are considered to be the stronghold of al-Qaeda. The French Interior Minister also indicated that suspicions were already pointing at him during the course of investigations on the murder of the three French paratroopers in Toulouse and Montauban on March 11 and 15.

Gueant affirmed that he had given instructions to arrest Mirāh alive, security forces liquidated him on the pretext that he declined to give himself up.

Al-Ahrām mentioned that the truth has thus died with the Arab-descent Frenchman who was killed on sheer suspicions and France finally closed the file of this case that extremely angered the Jewish community. [Najāh ‘Abd al-Na’īm, al-Ahrām, March 25, 2012] Read original text in Arabic 

Brit Dee in Activist Post on March 29 wrote:

Further evidence suggests that Mohamed Merah, the Frenchman shot dead on March 22nd whilst accused of murdering seven in the name of Al Qaeda, was an intelligence asset and informant.

Resistance Radio reported on Merah's extensive links to the intelligence services on the day he was shot dead by special forces, following a 32-hour standoff. Tuesday March 27th, Yves Bonnet, former head of France's counter-espionage service Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire (DST) added his expert voice to those questioning the official narrative -- which is that Merah was a ‘lone wolf’ operative who somehow ‘slipped through the net’”.

Speaking to La Dépêche, translated into English in The Independent, Bonnet said:

"It was 'striking' that Merah seemed to have a DCRI 'handler'. Having a handler, that is not an innocent thing,' he said. 'I don't know how far his relationship, or collaboration, with the service went but it is a question worth raising.'"

Bonnet's reference to "a handler" follows a statement by the head of the French internal security service, Bernard Squarcini, who earlier revealed that during the siege Merah had asked to speak to a Toulouse-based intelligence officer. This unnamed "young woman of North African origin" was the same agent who had interviewed Merah upon his return to France from a two-month trip to Pakistan in late 2011 -- an interview after which he was mystifyingly allowed to leave without suspicion, having produced tourist photos that apparently convinced his interrogator that he had merely been on an innocent holiday trip.

[Al-Ahrām reported this in Arabic on April 3, p. 8] Read original text in Arabic

Dr. Sa’īd al-Lāwindī commented in al-Ahrām on the “Toulouse incident in France...and the lost dialogue!”:

Unfortunately, we are the ones who distort our image, we promote without noticing a bloody image of a Muslim person. One example is the terrorist attack in Toulouse. Islamic countries were supposed to condemn what Muhammad Mirāh did and clarify that Islam is totally innocent from any forms of violence. Or else there will be bad impression on Islam that will be reinforced again, which already happened. The attack could have happened by another person of another religion but it happened that this terrorist belong to the Muslim faith and that he was a member of the North African community in France. So what is demanded from us is to remove the gap among the East and the West and that can happens if we started having a serious dialogue not just an argument of the deaf.
[Dr. Sa’īd al-Lāwindī, al-Ahrām, April 2, p. 10] Read original text in Arabic

The coverage of this terrorist attack in this manner by the Egyptian press could be described as very limited. It never became front page news of any newspaper. Most Egyptian newspapers neglected the terrorist attack except for al-Ahrām, al-Masā’ and Akhbār Misr Website, which is the official website of the News department in the Egyptian State-Television. Akhbār Misr Website said that he was a Muslim but other newspapers confined to only mentioning that he is of Arab descent or Algerian. Additionally, the newspapers which reported the terrorist attack did not neglect to mention that the gunman belongs to al-Qaeda organization.

No official or unofficial Islamic organization in Egypt has issued any condemnation despite many previous Muslim fatwás prohibiting the killing of human beings, even if they are not Muslims. The Islamic Research Academy headed by Grand Shaykh of the Azhar Dr. Ahmad al-Tayyīb stated earlier on January 21, 2011 that “preservation of human lives is one of the objectives of the Islamic sharī’ah as well as the laws of divine faiths that prohibit the killing of people”. He said that the Holy Qur’ān and Prophet’s hadīths all have clearly prohibited man’s killing of himself or others no matter the circumstances that pushed him/her to do so. [Author not mentioned, Al-Masā’, January 21, 2011] Read original text in Arabic But Dr. Ahmad al-Tayyīb did not release a statement on this specific attack.

Dr. ‘Abd al-Mu’tī Bayyūmī, a member of the Islamic Research Academy and former dean of Usūl al-Dīn College, Azhar University, stated on January 22, 2011, “Islam has prohibited the killing of human beings for any reasons”. [Author not mentioned, al-Ahrām, January 22, 2011, p. 1] Read original text in Arabic 

Shaykh Ibrāhīm Ridā, Azhar scholar and member of the Inter-religious Committee for Dialogue in the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, said to Arab West Report that what this young man [Muhammad Mirāh] did has nothing to do with Islam and according to Islam, he is a criminal and murderer.

Ridā believes that Egyptian media did not give the terrorist attack due attention because Egypt is currently going through an internal critical circumstances.

“Media are cautious in covering all what affects Islam after the rise of Islamist movements in the political platform,” according to Ridā who is also a member of young priests and shaykhs committee in the Dialogue Forum in the Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services (CEOSS).


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