(JTA) — A far-left politician who won 19% of the votes in France’s last presidential race and is running again next year suggested that a jihadist’s 2012 murder of four Jews in Toulouse was part of an elections conspiracy.
“You’ll see that on the last week of the presidential campaign, we’ll have a serious incident or a murder,” Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of the Unsubmissive France movement, said Sunday in Toulouse during an interview with the France Inter radio station. “In 2012 it was Merah, last week it was Champs-Elysee.”
Mohammed Merah, a former combatant for jihadists in Syria, murdered three Jewish children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in Toulouse in 2012. He was killed in a police siege days later.
On April 20, a police officer was gunned down on the Champs-Elysee avenue in Paris. A 37-year-old Muslim man is on trial for the shooting.
“All of this has been planned in advance,” said Melenchon, who has declared as a presidential candidate for ’22. “We get all kinds of people pulled out of nowhere at a very serious event which, once more, allows to point fingers at Muslims and to invent a civil war. It’s boring.”
Francis Kalifat, the president of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish organizations, condemned Melenchon’s remarks as “an obscene attack on the memory of the victims” of Merah and of the Champs-Elysee shooting. “After pandering to Islamo-leftist voters, conspiracy theories. Reaching rock bottom,” he added on Twitter.
Melenchon has made multiple statements widely condemned as antisemitic.
In 2014, he defended Arabs who stormed and torched synagogues in France and called Jewish supporters of Israel “citizens who decided to rally in front of the embassy of a foreign country or serve its flag, weapon in hand.”