Putting It In Perspective: Tragedy in Toulouse—Coming Together to Coexist

Posted by Jeremy Hiken on Thu, May 03, 2012 at 13:52 pm

The heartbreaking and gruesome murders of four innocent Jews in Toulouse, France in March left the world in shock. There is absolutely no excuse for any person to kill innocent children and a loving father whose only “crime” is being Jewish. Before the murders at the Jewish school, the gunman killed three French soldiers and left one in a coma. Two of the soldiers were Muslim. Rightfully so, this tragedy has been condemned by Christians, Muslims, Jews, and media outlets from across the political spectrum.

Shortly following the Toulouse tragedy, I was asked to compile a list of articles which “thoughtfully analyze that the victims of the Toulouse murderer were both Muslims and Jews.” Naively, I thought this would be an easy task. What I ended up realizing after over 90 minutes of research, however, is that the vast majority of the articles I came across only mentioned the death of these French soldiers in passing, if at all.

During polarized times like these, we sometimes forget that Muslims are also targets of intolerance and that most Muslims, including those in France, are against all forms of hate. This can potentially lead to much needed Jewish-Muslim cooperation, which, in many ways, is already taking place. For example, the Jewish-Muslim Friendship Society, founded in 2003, is committed to enhancing ties between the two French communities. Throughout the year, they organize events in which Jews and Muslims work together, such as volunteering for the Tour de France and participating in marches promoting coexistence.

As Jewish history shows, the use of hate for political purposes can create an environment where extremists are motivated to kill innocent people, which should be a concern for all who seek to live in safety and freedom. In the midst of the cold-blooded murder of both Jews and Muslims in Toulouse, there is hope – hope that people will learn that hate only begets hate. The only way to overcome bigotry is by learning to live together. Fortunately, organizations such as the Jewish-Muslim Friendship Society actively promote tolerance, having organized an interfaith march of thousands of people, including Jewish and Muslim leaders, following the shootings. With more efforts like these, Muslims and Jews, not just in France but all over the world, can succeed at building a better future for all freedom-loving and tolerant people.

Read HIAS’ statement on the Toulouse murders.

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