the stand-off in Toulouse took well over 24 hours, and the police did not go in until late morning today. It is their policy not to go in without contact from the person inside, but in the end they did.
They had heard no sound from him all night. I think perhaps he just went to sleep for a while. We'll never know now. When they did go in he came out of the bathroom with guns blazing, shot three officers, wounding one quite seriously, and jumped out of the window, still firing. He was dead when he was found on the ground. Suicide is not allowed in Islam, but maybe that is not what Mohammed Merah in fact intended. All that said, seven people are dead, two of them children, most likely at Mohammed Merah's hands. The stupid left has already kicked off in the UK - apparently it was all Sarko's fault for taking France into "imperialist wars" (there are 4,000 French troops in Afghanistan, and they are due to leave next year) and for having a government which marginalises Muslims, bans the hijab etc. Ah yes, uncovered women. That'll turn anyone into a mass murderer. Leonard Cohen had it right when he sang about 9/11 that it may have been done because of "our women uncovered, our slaves and our gold" but that he "wouldn't know". Following events on Twitter earlier today I was struck by how many apparently young French people were being flippant about the whole thing, wondering if Merah's motorbike would be for sale afterwards. I guess they're not used to this kind of thing. Some more serious types deplored the lack of coverage of last night's coup in Mali because of this event. Anyway, another person is dead. And what now? Seriously, what now? A mad loner is one thing, but who paid for him to go to Pakistan and Afghanistan? Where did he get the guns he used? Aren't these fair questions? I have been to Toulouse, "la ville rose" "the pink city" and I wonder what effect these events had on the people living in the neighbourhood. On Saturday I saw a terrific film called "38 Temoins" "38 Witnesses" (I think it has an English version which is called "One Night") which is about silence, and the truth. It is set in Le Havre, and I think now that this has happened I need to see that film again. Go and see it if you can find a subtitled version if you need to, and ask yourself what you would say, and do, if a killing happened in your neighbourhood.