LUNEL, France — When this picturesque southern French town of just 25,700 people first learned late last year that six local Muslims had been killed fighting for Islam in Syria, accounting for 10 percent of the total number of French killed there, the right-wing mayor quietly asked the head of the local mosque for help.
“I need you, and you need me to stop this,” the mayor, Claude Arnaud, recalled telling Lahoucine Goumri, who was president of Al Baraka mosque in Lunel at the time. “We agreed he would make a statement.”
He did. But instead of condemning the surge of young recruits, Mr. Goumri told local news media that the policies of President François Hollande were the main culprit and complained that it was not his job to denounce the jihadists when nobody protested French citizens who traveled to Israel to help the army “kill Palestinian babies.”
In the wake of last week’s attacks by terrorists in and around Paris that killed 17 people, Lunel is still struggling to fathom how such a small town, nestled in the sun-splashed Languedoc wine-growing region, has come to earn its dubious distinction as a breeding ground for jihadists...Quel head-scratcher. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that jihadis love to wage jihad; it's what they do. And maybe it isn't the best ideas to count on "moderate" Muslims who sound like they side with Hamas to help you tackle the problem.