Hocine Drouiche, an Algerian imam in France and witness of an Islam reinterpreted in the light of modernity, believes it is time to break down the walls of misunderstanding and suspicion between Muslims and Jews. For decades, Arab nationalism and Salafi Islam have manipulated the majority of the Muslim faithful. Hope for the development of all the peoples of the Middle East, including the Palestinians. The personal cost and risk of life.
Nîmes (AsiaNews) - I could not hold back a few tears of joy as I watched the Israeli El Al plane cross the airspace of Saudi Arabia and land safely at Abu Dhabi airport, in the United Arab Emirates a sight that just a few days earlier would have been unimaginable.
Down through the years in Brussels, Paris, Toulouse, Rome, Washington and even Tel Aviv we have worked to break down the walls of misunderstanding and suspicion to restore the trust essential to the achievement of a just and lasting peace between Arabs and Israelis.
In all of these years this has not been easy, o the contrary ...
After every stay in these countries, every time I returned to my mosque, I would be gripped by the fear that my final hour had come and that it would be the last day of life, because we were all qualified as traitors to the Arab cause, collaborationists, Zionists and even apostates. And not only by the Salafists and Muslim brotherhood, but also by the vast majority of Muslims manipulated for decades by an Arab nationalism and an ancestral Islam that has done everything to separate Arabs and Muslims from Israelis and Jews throughout the world.
Despite the establishment of large Muslim communities in Europe, almost nothing has changed for them: they remain imbued with this ideology of hatred. Extremist Islamism has instilled this hatred since the beginning of the construction of mosques in Europe, that is, since the 1980s.
Twice anti-Semitic Muslim extremists have distanced me from my work, and have even tried several times to shut down our mosque.
They even nicknamed it "the Israelite mosque" because it is one of a few rare mosques in France that every year commemorates the indescribable drama of the Shoah, to give Islam its humanist dimension. A dimension that has been lost due to the opportunist plans of this political Islam that has always taken European and Arab Muslims hostage.
An Islamist imam has also promulgated a fatwa, prohibiting prayer inside our mosque. When I went to meet him in his mosque, he even said to me: “Jews and Christians have helped our Muslim faithful to build your mosque. And they have wounded our community!”.
The Islamists have not forgotten to use their most dangerous weapon, branding me as an apostate to discredit me in front of French Muslims and encouraging the mother of my children, who is and will always remain the love of my life, to divorce me.
The enemies of life destroy all the courageous actions of the Arabs and Jews who work for reconciliation and peace; a peace that they hope will not be achieved, because of the hatred for and rejection of the other, of the Jew in this specific case, are the basis of their trade.
Thanks to the intelligence and courage of Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (MBZ), as well as Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and also to Benjamin Netanyahu, these men of good will have been able to overcome the doctrines of hatred that extremists do not want to abandon so that they may continue manipulating Muslims for many more years.
Since the beginning of the terrorist attacks in France, the Bataclan, the Hyper-caher in Paris, the ignoble killings in Toulouse, the attacks in Brussels and Nice, etc ... the extremist machine has made use of defamation, insults, threats of death and intimidation towards Muslims of good will, to voluntarily extinguish all the glimmers of peace in the bosom of an Islam torn between hatred and rejection, but in search of renewal and pacification. The Arab nation will have eternal gratitude to these two great brave and intelligent leaders who have taken the initiative to recognize the State of Israel and the Israeli people as a natural neighbour.
MBS and MBZ confirmed that this desire for peace with Israel will never take place at the expense of the rights of the Palestinians, whom they want to support and accompany towards a global peace process.
Millions of Arabs and Muslims around the world support this promise and this normalization, even if some are afraid to manifest it in public for fear of violent reprisals by the Islamists.
The economic development that arises from this normalization will be an important accelerator for peace. The general normalization of relations in the region will be largely beneficial to all peoples in this very sensitive part of the world. This normalization is required by all peoples and all progressive actors in these countries and is rejected by the obscurantist and extremist forces.
This growing prosperity will be the first element that will overcome hatred and negativity. And we will need the solid support of the United States, Russia and even Europe to provide a positive, supportive environment for all.
(End of part one)
* Vice-president of the Conference of Imams of France. Former candidate for the leadership of the Grand Mosque of Paris