The Toulouse Massacre: More Jihad Denial

Every time a Muslim commits murder in the name of Islam, the denial begins again: Western leaders and the mainstream media tie themselves into knots trying to explain what happened without making any reference to its guiding motivation.

Last week was no different: Muhammad Merah was a self-styled "Islamic warrior" who killed a rabbi and several children at a Jewish day school in Toulouse, France, in an attack that the international media widely reported initially as having been perpetrated by a neo-Nazi. When it became clear that Merah was actually a jihadist, the predictable denial began: French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that the attack had nothing to do with Islam, and the call echoed worldwide not to allow the murders to harm French "pluralism."

In fact, however, Muhammad Merah's murders had everything to do with Islam: he claimed affiliation with al-Qaeda and may have trained with the Taliban, both of which are explicitly and ostentatiously Muslim groups that justify all their actions by reference to the Qur'an and Sunnah. He claimed to be a mujahid, which is a warrior of jihad, which is an Islamic theological and legal concept. He killed Muslim soldiers who fought in the infidel military -- something that only someone who considered one's loyalty to the umma to trump all other loyalties would have done.

Indeed, so grounded is Merah's massacre in Islam that it is virtually inconceivable that he would have carried it out had he not been a Muslim. And so Sarkozy is, like every other leader in the Western world today, whistling in the dark, trying to pretend that there is no problem when there is a huge problem, and basing the future of his nation on the fantasy that the overwhelming majority of Muslims in France do not believe the same things Muhammad Merah believed.

Meanwhile, Sarkozy announced that he is going to make habitually visiting jihadi websites a crime. But as long as Sarkozy and the French establishment continues in denial about the nature, source and magnitude of the threat, monitoring websites may stop a few jihad attacks, but it will do nothing to stop the Islamization of French society by gradual capitulation to Sharia demands. The hijab ban was one step to prevent that, but Sarkozy is going to have to be prepared to be much more "implacable in defending our values," as he declared he would be in the wake of Merah's massacre, than he has been up to now, if he is really serious about doing so.

The denial continues on other fronts as well. The leader of the French Muslim Council, Mohammed Moussaoui, asserted that Merah actually misunderstood the religion to which he had dedicated his life and for which he was fighting: "These acts are in total contradiction with the foundations of this religion," he said. "France's Muslims are offended by this claim of belonging to this religion."

Offended? Muhammad Merah himself is responsible for any claim that his murders had anything to do with Islam, but Moussaoui's strange statement is not just an attempt to distance Islam from Merah's massacre: Moussaoui's words here are consistent with the general tendency of Muslim leaders to pretend that the connection between Islam and jihad violence is being made by non-Muslim analysts, not by the jihadists themselves.

Also, if it is really true that Merah's "acts are in total contradiction with the foundations of this religion," what is Mohammed Moussaoui doing in mosques in France to make sure that more Muslims there don't misunderstand Islam in the same way that Muhammad Merah did? In fact, no Muslim community in any Western country has any such program or activity -- nothing at all to fight in mosques and madrassas against this disturbingly pervasive understanding of Islam that they insist is in error.

One can only conclude that Muslim leaders don't do anything serious against this understanding of Islam because they don't really think it "contradicts Islam" at all. Western authorities, including Nicolas Sarkozy, should act accordingly. But they won't, of course. They will take Mohammed Moussaoui's words at face value and go away confirmed in their complacency.

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad.