Strange priorities at the New York Times. Reporter Scott Sayare, in Toulouse in the aftermath of the killings of seven by a radical Muslim, seemed to think that the top story out of the tragedy was Muslim fear of rising tensions: "After Killings in France, Muslims Fear a Culture of Diversity Is at Risk ."
Toulouse is by no means without racism, anti-Semitism, crime or the deep social segregation that marks many French cities, but with a culture shaped by successive waves of immigration, it is described by its inhabitants as a place of particular tolerance.
Sayare focused not on the victims, which include Jewish children, or what the killing signifies about Islamic integration into French society -- only the fear that the killings would foster ethnic "tensions" against Muslims.
There are concerns, though, that Mohammed Merah may have changed that.
The seven brutal killings carried out this month by Mr. Merah -- a 23-year-old son of Toulouse, and a professed jihadi -- occurred during a divisive presidential race that had already turned toward questions of immigration and Islam. Even though investigators say Mr. Merah was effectively a lone, self-radicalized extremist, his violent ideology fits closely with some French stereotypes of Islam, and Muslims here fear that the tensions brought on by the murders may prove more lasting.
The young Muslims Sayare talked to certainly kept any sympathy for the victims well-hidden, preferring to pity themselves. And no article on French Muslims is complete without a slam at President Nicolas Sarkozy.
“There will be a ‘before’ and an ‘after,’ ” said Yassin Elmu’min, 23, a round-faced young man with blue eyes and short hair slicked into tight curls. Typically, Mr. Elmu’min said, there is “dialogue” between cultures in Toulouse, and Muslims are treated well. But he and other Muslims, many living in the poor suburbs outside downtown Toulouse, said they had already begun to detect nervous gazes that were uncharacteristic of this city.
“Someone had the nerve to ask me, ‘Do you agree with what he did?’ ” Mr. Elmu’min said, exasperated. President Nicolas Sarkozy called for the rejection of “easy falsehoods” about Muslims last week, after Mr. Merah was killed by police commandos, Mr. Elmu’min said. “The ‘easy falsehoods’ are already here,” he lamented.
A friend, Abd’allah, 19, dressed in a cream-colored djellaba beneath a hooded sweatshirt, said, “We’re the victims in the story.” He declined to give his full name, saying he feared trouble from the French authorities.
Despite Mr. Sarkozy’s recent appeals for tolerance, many Muslims say he has done much to stigmatize them, pointing often to a 2010 law banning the Islamic full veil, or niqab, and to a debate on “the national identity.”