Merah seems to be motivated by his reaction to the political traumas of the religious community that he subscribed to. His zeal seems to be against occupation and humiliation, not godlessness or impiety.
One judges not only a man, but a country by this type of reaction, by its capacity for revulsion when confronted with an eruption of horror. A moment of grace. The beauty of a commonly-shared sorrow. The prerogative of a great people.