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Families of Toulouse victims seek gag order on leaked recordings

JTA

July 9, 2012 | 2:33 pm

Frame grab of Mohamed Merah from a video broadcast March 21 by France 2 .Photo by REUTERS/France 2 Television/Handout

Frame grab of Mohamed Merah from a video broadcast March 21 by France 2 .Photo by REUTERS/France 2 Television/Handout

Relatives of the victims of Toulouse killer Mohammed Merah will seek to prevent the media from broadcasting recordings of the late French Muslim gunman.

Attorneys for the bereaved relatives said Monday that they are seeking a gag order on the recordings after negotiations between Merah and French police were aired by the French television channel TF1. Merah murdered three children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in Toulouse on March 19.

The conversations took place as police lay siege to Merah’s home in Toulouse. He was killed in a shootout on March 23.

“You are facing a man who does not fear death,” a masculine voice believed to belong to Merah is heard saying in the recordings, which were aired June 8. “I love death as much as you love life.”

Samia Maktouf, an attorney for one of the families, said that “The victims of this attack are outraged.” The families’ main concern is that Merah’s words will inspire copycats.

“Next, videos of Merah will be disseminated,” Maktouf said. “This will cause irrevocable damage.”

Merah made a video recording of his attack on the Otzar Hatorah school. The Qatar-based Al Jazeera network obtained the footage but decided not to air it.

French police are investigating how TF1 obtained the recordings, which may have been leaked by the police.

The umbrella organization of French Jewish communities, CRIF, expressed its “shock and outrage” at the airing of the recordings. The Council for Audiovisual Communication, a French professional union, advised other media not to air them.

French Interior Minister Manuel Valls condemned the decision to run extracts of the negotiations. He also said Monday that he is concerned about a “new breed of anti-Semitism” in France. His comments came the day after the two suspects in the July 5 attack on a Jewish teenager traveling on a train between Toulouse and Lyon were detained by police.

“There is anti-Semitism that exists in our neighbourhoods, in our suburbs,” said Valls, according to the European Jewish Press and the French news agency AFP. “There are in our neighborhoods youths or younger persons who in the name of a collective identity they feel is under attack decide on the most ignorant course, the most dangerous to our values, to perpetuate attacks on Jews. They consider Jews to be the enemy.”

The 17-year-old victim of the train attack reportedly is a student at the Ozar Hatorah school. The teen, who reportedly was wearing a kippah and tzitzit, was accosted verbally before he was beaten by two assailants.

“Today, [people] don’t think twice about insulting or hitting a fellow citizen because he is identifiably Jewish in his appearance,” Valls added in an interview with a Jewish radio station.

According to the French Jewish Protection Service, there were more than 90 anti-Semitic incidents in France in the 10 days following the school shooting.

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