Hollande remembers Merah victims, defends Mali mission | News | DW | 17.03.2013
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Hollande remembers Merah victims, defends Mali mission

The French president has paid tribute to the seven people, including four Jews killed by an Islamist in the southern city of Toulouse last year. Francois Hollande said France would keep up the fight against terror.

"The fight against terrorism allows no yielding, no weakness, no negligence," Hollande told a service for the seven victims on Sunday. "Democracy is stronger than fanaticism."

President Hollande also used his speech at the service, attended by around 1,500 people, to defend France's military intervention in Mali, describing it as being "in the name of the international community."

Earlier in the day, the defense ministry announced that a fifth soldier had been killed since France launched its offensive on Islamist rebels in mid-January.

The Mali mission has led to heightened fears of terrorist attacks in France.

Speaking after readings from Toulouse schoolchildren at the service, Hollande also compared the killings, carried out by Islamist militant Mohamed Merah, to the Holocaust.

"The children of Toulouse died for the same reason ... because they were Jewish," the president said.

Three of Merah's victims were children at a Jewish school, while a fourth was a rabbi. His first three victims were Franch soldiers of North African origin. The killings came between March 11 and 19 last year.

The 23-year-old Merah, who described himself as a sympathiser of the al Qaeda terror network, was shot dead by a sniper two days later, when French special forces stormed the apartment he had been holed up in for two-and-a-half days.

pfd/kms (dpa, AFP, AP, Reuters)