(AsiaNews) - Immediately after the attack in Paris against Charlie Hebdo, France's Muslim communities issued a very balanced
and reasonable statement. Yet, their words betray a certain embarrassment,
indicating that it is not enough to say, "This has nothing to do with
Islam". Because facts contradict them. At least 80 per cent of all terrorist
attacks in the world are carried out in the name of Islam, to defend the faith,
or the prophet. And this is growing more and more, even in the West.
yesterday with a Paris-based imam who told me that a school for imams just opened
in the French capital. More than a thousand people have signed up. The school
plans to help imams integrate and teach them about Western culture.
important news because in Islam, everything begins with the imams. In Europe, imams
and mosque preachers are paid by their country of origin. Now they want to
create a French Islam that can assimilate the country's Western values (see
this goes against what most Muslim activists believe, namely that the West is the
enemy, and that Islam is a system that must spread, by violence if need be. Indeed,
in the Middle East and Europe, they are at loggerheads over how to view Islam.
If we look
at the Middle East and beyond, we realise how much opposition and violence there
is between Sunnis and Shias.
I met an
imam from Mosul. He is Shia and Sunni fundamentalists killed his family. He moved
to Najaf, where the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani built a village to
accommodate Shias and Christians who fled Mosul.
between Sunnis and Shias is growing, especially by Sunnis against Shias who
they deem to be apostates. Minorities like the Christians, Yazidis, Kurds, etc.
are caught in between. This is a struggle by Sunnis to regain what they lost: Shia-ruled
Iraq; Alawi-ruled Syria; Hizbollah-dominated Lebanon where the Shia group is
more powerful than the country's regular army. Sunnis, who claim to embody the
true form of Islam, want to win back lost territory.
Thus, this is
first and foremost a struggle within Islam, with collateral damages inflicted on
minorities and the West. The latter has sponsored Israel, become secularised, etc.;
yet, this enemy is far away. The most burning issue is the internal struggle over
who is propagating the truest Islam.
Lebanon, tensions are running high. For this reason, both Muslim communities are
asking Christians to remain to serve as a buffer. Without Christians, Lebanon would
already be plunged in a war between Sunnis and Shias.
address in depth the issue of modernity - through an exhaustive interpretation
of the Qur'an, non-violence, freedom of conscience - yet nobody dares to do so.
thing that everybody should accept is the principle of non-violence. All
Muslims claim that "Islam is peace", that it is not violent, etc.
Charlie Hebdo's cartoons, for example, are
an old thing, going back a few months. I agree that they are ironic, sarcastic,
even outrageous, but why should you Muslims react to them with violence? Why
not fight the pen with a pen?
In the past
(in 2006), Charlie Hebdo printed a
cartoon depicting Muhammad with a bomb instead of a turban. My question to my
Muslim friends is: How do you depict Muhammad? With a sword. An Istanbul museum
has even two swords thought to have belonged to the Prophet. What does Saudi
Arabia, the country that guards the holy places of Islam, have on its flag? Two
swords! So I tell you: all the people at Charlie
Hebdo did was simply update Muhammad's image. Once there were swords; today,
there are bombs!
As long as
Islam fights against others - apostates, Christians, the West, atheists - and does
not engage in self-criticism and recognises that its problem is within, we all
lose. Without it, Islamic countries will be increasingly involved in wars among
Even the fighting
taking place in Africa, in Arab countries bordering the Mediterranean, and in the
Sahara Desert are conflicts within Islam.
Let me tell
my Muslim friends: Engage in self-criticism, imagine another Islam for today's
world, reinterpret the words of the prophet. Even in the Bible, there are
verses that glorify war. But we all understand the need to reinterpret them and
not take them literally.
to take into account the fact that we are already living in the 21st
century. Ordinary, defenceless people, minorities, pay the price for these wars.
divide is reflected in the fight between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Here, religion is
part of a broader economic, strategic, and geopolitical power struggle.
must be told that this is the 21st century. How is it possible, for
example, to deny women the right to drive a car on their own? Or that women do
not yet have the right to vote at the national level?
who responsible for these things - Saudi Arabia - do so as true interpreters of
Islam, in the name of Islam. And that disgusts everyone, Muslims included.
If you do
these things in the name of religion, then you cannot complain if I attack your
religion, which makes you humiliate so much other human beings.
If you speak
with Muslims, they will say: Yes, of course, Saudi Arabia is a reactionary, backward
country . . . but since the Saudis offer billion to various countries, in the
end all of them say, "God bless Saudi Arabia."
does not know what to do
the West? The relationship with Muslims is a problem because a lot of them do
not want to integrate, because Islam is a system, not just a religion. Many, a
majority, try to fit in, but they do so slowly. In France, Algerians were
better integrated 50 years ago that immigrants today.
Now, in France,
almost all supermarkets across the country sell halal products. Now schools and
supermarkets often sell only halal products, which even non-Muslims can buy.
This leads some
to see Muslims as a threat, one that could undermine Western values (including
the right to eat pork). Seeing Muslims organised in activist groups, Westerners
organise into anti-Islamic groups.
At the same
time, European politicians have never really dealt with the problem. They ought
to tell migrants: You are welcome. We welcome you as brothers and sisters because
that is part of our Christian tradition. If you want, you can stay here, but
you need to integrate. You can practice the religion of your choice, or you can
be an atheist, but you must become part of the existing system, integrate at
the economic, political, and social levels.
politicians prefer not to stick their nose in; they choose instead to preach some
vague notion of acceptance, pushing European culture into the private sphere.
In general, what
I see is that in many parts of Europe, migrants are met with great openness. Muslims,
too, do the same. However, there is a core group of Muslims who reject integration
and fight it instead.
In order to monitor
this situation, mosques need to be controlled. At first glance, this is contrary
to our European spirit, whereby state and religion are distinct. However, in
Islam mosques are not just a place of worship. They are also places of
indoctrination and political guidance, sometimes in ways that are even harmful
to the community. This is why European states should monitor them, as is done
in all Muslim countries. In the Islamic world, mosques are the first entities
that are controlled.
this example shows that the certainties claimed by organised Islamic groups are
confronted by the Western world's many uncertainties.