Police in France killed one man and arrested 10 others in an anti-terror sweep in cities across the country on October 6. Authorities have linked the suspects to the firebombing last month of a Jewish grocery store outside the city. Paris prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters that the main suspect, 33-year-old Jeremy Sidney, was killed by police as he opened fire on them during a Saturday morning raid in the eastern city of Strasbourg.
The prosecutor described Sidney as a delinquent with ties to radical Islam. Molins said police had linked Sidney to the DNA found on a grenade that exploded in September at a kosher store near Paris. Molins said police were questioning 10 others following raids that also took place in southern France and the Paris region. A couple of other suspects remain at large. The prosecutor said all the suspects were French nationals and at least three have police records. Molins said police had cracked a terror cell - a move that drew praise from French President Francois Hollande.
The September grenade explosion came amid angry Muslim protests against the publication of French cartoons and a crude privately produced American video mocking the Prophet Muhammad. Concern in France about homegrown, radical Islam heightened this year, after Islamist Mohammed Merah killed seven people in the southern city of Toulouse. Four of those killed were Jewish students and a teacher at a Jewish school. On October 3, France's Socialist government introduced legislation that would increase the power of the police to detect and arrest people attending combat training camps in conflict zones like Pakistan and Afghanistan. That was the case with the terrorist Merah.
Muslims were offended this past week in Toulouse when an artist inadvertently projected verses of the Koran onto the streets and sidewalks of the city. When Muslims refused to allow anyone to walk on the projected images, scuffles ensued and at least one women was assaulted and injured in the affray. Local Muslim religious leaders called for calm but demanded explanations for the apparent profanation of the writings of Mohammed, the founder of Islam.
The pavement video installation had been intended to celebrate Islam. The work of Moroccan artist Mounir Fatmi, the artwork called Technologia projected video images on the pavement of the Pont-Neuf, which crosses the Garonne River in Toulouse. The installation featured Islamic calligraphy, as well as verses of the Koran and the sayings of Mohammed. While it was slated to be opened over the next two weekends, it started accidently on the evening of October 2 and before the organizers could install measures preventing persons from stepping on the projected Islamic verses. However, more than 80 Muslims assembled at the bridge to keep others from stepping on the verses. A young woman was assaulted and slapped after she stepped on the verses. Another young woman, Charaza Boumza - a 23-year-old Muslim - told Le Monde that she was among the verse to voice opposition to projecting images of the Koran. “They’re putting the Koran on the ground, it’s unbelievable,” she said.
The artist and supporters have now decided to withdraw the work, while Fatmi said he did not intend to cause offense even though he himself is a Muslim. Fatmi said that his work had been shown in Qatar, on the Arabian peninsula. “There, a few kilometres from Saudi Arabia, it didn’t shock anyone, but it does in Toulouse. I’m upset about it, I don’t really understand.”
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