‘I Am Not Afraid’: French Muslim Activist Latifa Ibn Ziaten Defiant After Antisemitic Slogans Scrawled on Her Home
A prominent French Muslim human rights activist has defiantly confronted the anonymous vandals who sprayed her house with violently antisemitic graffiti on Monday, telling them: “I am not afraid.”
Latifa Ibn Ziaten was speaking to French media outlets on Tuesday, one day after she awoke to discover that her house in the city of Rouen had been daubed with slogans including, “Dirty Jew,” and, “Jew Soon Dead.”
The Moroccan-born Ibn Ziaten leapt to public attention in France in March 2012, when her son Imad — a sergeant in the French army — was murdered outside the city of Toulouse by the Islamist gunman Mohamed Merah. Sgt. Ibn Ziaten was the first of Merah’s victims during an eight-day killing spree in which he murdered two other off-duty French soldiers and seriously wounded one more.
Merah’s terrorist campaign infamously culminated at the Ozar Hatorah Jewish day school in Toulouse on March 9, where he executed at close range Rabbi Jonathan Sandler and his two sons Aryeh, 6, and Gabriel, 3, along with 8-year-old Miriam Monsonego. Following a three-day manhunt, Merah was killed by French police in a standoff at his apartment building in Toulouse.
Shortly after her son’s death at Merah’s hands, Ibn Ziaten — herself a devout Muslim — launched the “Imad Ibn Ziaten Youth Association for Peace,” which works with young, disadvantaged French Muslims who are vulnerable to recruitment by radical Islamist groups. Among the many organizations to have recognized Ibn Ziaten’s efforts was the Jewish communal organization CRIF, which officially honored her in 2014.
After discovering the hateful slogans scrawled on her house on Monday — including one that taunted her with the words “Vive Merah” — Ibn Ziaten tweeted a photograph along with a message that declared, “Once again I am targeted.”
En me réveillant ce matin, c’est sous le choc que j’ai découvert ces tags sur les murs de ma maison. Une nouvelle fois, je suis prise pour cible. J’ai déposé plainte. J’espère que les coupables seront retrouvés et punis de leur acte haineux. pic.twitter.com/Q6OXyEsbSe
— Latifa Ibn Ziaten (@LatifaIbnZ) June 10, 2019
Later on, Ibn Ziaten pledged to “continue the fight in memory of my son Imad.”
“I will stand up to convey all the values he carried, respect and tolerance,” his mother said.
Samia Maktouf, Ibn Ziaten’s lawyer, said on Monday that she had requested the French Interior Ministry provide extra security for her client.
Among those declaring their solidarity with Ibn Ziaten was French President Emmanuel Macron.
“The perpetrators of these heinous acts will be punished, but they have already lost,” Macron tweeted. “Because they cannot face the loving fight of a mother who has survived the worst. We are millions at your side.”