Mohamed Merah, the Islamic extremist gunman who killed seven people in southwestern France, will be buried in France after officials in his ancestral home of Algeria refused to allow his funeral in the country, according to reports.
BBC reported that an official with the Muslim Council of France, Abdallah Zekri, said authorities in Algeria cited security concerns and reasons of public policy for the denial of the burial on their soil.
The French-Algerian newspaper Liberte reported that Merah was denied the burial because he lacked dual citizenship and was not registered with the Algerian Consulate in Toulouse.
French media reported that Merah’s family had wanted the funeral to take place in the province of Medea, which is about 50 miles south of Algiers, the capital.
Merah, 23, who claimed links to al-Qaeda, was killed in a shootout last week at his apartment in Toulouse – the culmination of a 32-hour police siege. He had previously murdered three French paratroopers and four people (including three children) outside a Jewish school in and around Toulouse.
Zekri told Le Monde newspaper: [The funeral] will be [Thursday] at 5:00 p.m. in the Muslim section of the cemetery [at] Cornebarrieu.
However, a burial in Toulouse (the site of the killings) will likely be challenged by French authorities. The mayor of Toulouse, Pierre Cohen, has already said it would be “inappropriate” for Merah to have a funeral in the city, given the trauma he has created there.
Following Algeria's last-minute refusal to accept Mohammed Merah's body, Mayor Pierre Cohen feels that his burial within the city of Toulouse is inappropriate, his office said in a statement, according to Agence France Presse.
Le Monde reported that if Merah is buried in France, the gravesite will either be desecrated, or perhaps become a pilgrimage site for other Islamic militants. There are also conflicting reports over the location of Merah's body. An official at Air Algeria denied a report that the body has already arrived in Algiers from Toulouse.