Woman launches peace project after visiting neighborhood of Jihadist who killed her son

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05/04/2021
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Her name is Latifa, and she is from Morocco. She lost her son during a fundamentalist attack in France.

The murderer, Mohammed Merah was stopped by the police. But she decided to go to his neighborhood to try to make sense of what happened.

She asked a number of young people if they knew the killer.

LATIFA IBN ZIATEN
“I approached two of them and asked them where my son's killer lived. They looked at me and asked, 'But ma'am, don't you watch TV? Don't you read the paper? Mohammed Merah is a martyr, a hero of Islam. He brought France to its knees.'

I looked at them and asked if they knew who I was. I told them I was Imad's mom and asked how they could say Mohammed was a martyr. That he was truly a murderer. Then they got up and surrounded me. I thought my time had also come.”

But that wasn't the end. What happened was the beginning of another story, because the young people were moved by Latifa.

LATIFA IBN ZIATEN
“They told me they understood what I was going through and that I was a brave woman for going there to look for my son's killer. One said, 'My mom would never do that. When I leave the house, she tells me she hopes I don't return.'”

Latifa says everything changed then. She saw how hatred grows within people who feel abandoned.

That's why she founded an organization called IMAD, to offer support to young people in neighborhoods like that one.

Her work earned her the Zayed Award, which was created after the pope and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar signed the document on human fraternity.

LATIFA IBN ZIATEN
“I was very excited, very happy. It's an award that will help me dedicate more of my work to young people. FLASH It was an honor, and I hope to some day meet Pope Francis. He is a man I admire and a man who opens paths of peace. He's extraordinary. May God protect him.”

The Zayed Award is given to those who build bridges between people of different religions.

This is exactly what Latifa is doing, helping many young people from France's peripheries not fall into the trap of hatred.

Javier Romero / Pamela Young

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