Thursday, March 07, 2013

French Imams Reaching Out- Visit Drancy Holocaust Memorial and Israel

In France, where anti-Semitism flourishes, dozens of  French Imams took a trip to the Holocaust Memorial at Drancy  (a suburb of Paris) on February 4th this year to pay tribute to the almost 70,000 French Jews who were deported to Germany from the internment camp located in Drancy. About 17 of those Imams had visited Israel in December, and last March some went to Israel to pray for the children that Mohamed Merah massacred in Toulouse.  The visit was to show the French people that not all Muslims are extremists, and that the religion is one of peace and tolerance. It's hard for many to believe that, with all the violence perpetrated in the name of Islam, and the reluctance on the part of Muslims to integrate into Western society. According to the Le Monde's IPSOS poll, 74% of the French population believe that Islam is incompatible with French values.  Hassen Chalghoumi, the imam of the mosque in Drancy is trying to change that perception.

Of Tunisian heritage Chalghoumi backed the burqa/niqab ban. He has also been actively pursuing dialogue with Jews, in spite of death threats.  Chalghoumi actually agreed with then President Sarkozy's assertion that "The burqa is not a religious sign, it's a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement..", and that France ".. cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity,"and therefore they are not welcome in France.

Although he didn't agree with all the proposed provisions of the ban- including fining women for wearing the veil, or cutting off their child support payments- he definitely agreed that immigrant women who wear the veil should not be given citizenship. In 2010, he told Le Parisien:

"Yes, I am for a legal ban of the burqa, which has no place in France, a country where women have been voting since 1945."
"...full face veils had no basis in Islam and "belong to a tiny minority tradition reflecting an ideology that scuttles the Muslim religion."
"The burqa is a prison for women, a tool of sexist domination and Islamist indoctrination." 
"Having French nationality means wanting to take part in society, at school, at work," he said.
"But with a bit of cloth over their faces, what can these women share with us? If they want to wear the veil, they can go to a country where it's the tradition, like Saudi Arabia."

In this 2011 interview on Al Arabiya TV, Chalghoumi discusses how Islam has become a religion of extremism which denies women their rights. For his outspoken condemnation of extremism he walks around with police escorts.

It's too bad that he's only one voice being drowned out in a sea of politically correct voices that are too afraid to say "this is our country, adapt or get out."  It's too bad he's only one man attempting to dialogue with Jews in a bid to create peace on this planet. It's too bad he's being threatened with death because of those attempts. I commend him for having the courage to buck the Islamic 'religious' system, and standing up for human rights. If he is indeed sincere in that quest.

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