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  • » 01/02/2017, 15.46

    FRANCE – ISLAM

    Most imams in France (and Belgium) forbid greetings at Christmas and New Year

    Hocine Drouiche*

    Hocine Drouiche, a French imam in Nîmes and deputy chairman of the French Imam Conference, slams this attitude and all those who claim that Islam is a religion of peace, but deem season’s greetings as "an insult". The presence of “open-minded Muslims, who greet you with a big smile and wish you a Happy New Year” is important.

    Paris (AsiaNews) – Most imams in France (and Belgium) forbid the faithful from celebrating Christmas and the New Year and call on Muslims not to extend holidays greetings. This is what French imam Hocine Drouiche wrote on his Facebook page. He is one of the most open-minded French Muslim clerics opposed  to extremism. A tireless promoter and supporter of dialogue between different faiths, he condemns those who repeat the "mantra" that Islam  is a religion of peace but then consider expressing season’s greetings "as an insult" because "this is not our religion."

    For him, the Islam professed by these imams, who are the majority in France, in Belgium, and in many other countries, "is not a true Islam of peace and shared life". Qurʾānic schools in the West are places that extol political Islam based on jihad and hatred of the "enemies." Fortunately, there are also “open-minded Muslims, who greet you with a big smile and wish you a Happy New Year.”

    The harsh rebuke of the position held by most imams on season’s greetings  (Christmas and New Year) is just the latest in a series of complaints made by the French Muslim cleric. In the aftermath of the attacks in Paris, in November 2015, he called on the faithful not to leave Islam "hostage in the hands” of extremists". At the same time, he urged Muslim communities to live dialogue and friendship with Europeans, without fear and arrogance.

    He is not alone in denouncing the climate of hostility and loathing promoted by some European Muslims towards the culture, tradition and faith of Europe’s natives. Recently, a former Islamic radical who was close to Salafist ideology for years, noted calls by imams and clerics to "hate Christians and Jews", not to imitate the "infidels" and not to participate "in their festivities and celebrations. " Imam Drouiche’s reflection follows. Translation by AsiaNews:

    Sorry, I will not wish you Happy New Year because I am a “true Muslim"!

    Almost all of the imams in France (and in neighbouring Belgium) forbid French Muslims from celebrating Christmas and New Year and wishing Happy Holidays to both Muslims and non-Muslims.

    They keep on saying that Islam is a religion of peace, a mantra that is repeated in endless ways. Yet, today I saw with my own eyes the results of these incomprehensible and illogical formulations, meeting several devout Muslim who view best wishes for the New Year as an insult.

    They are embarrassed, they look at you in a strange way, they answer: But this is not our religion! As if the new year belonged to a specific religion. Fortunately, there are also open-minded Muslims, who greet you with a big smile and wish you a Happy New Year.

    The Islam of these imams is not a true Islam of peace and shared life. This is a Bedouin and archaic Islam. The French Interior Ministry, which funds the French Council of the Muslim Faith (Conseil français du culte musulman, CFCM), must review its programmes and collaborations.

    For me, the Bataclans, Hyper Cachers and Nices stem from these hateful directives. If they refuse to change these inhumane fatwas, they certainly cannot say that Islam is not involved in “isolated" attacks because Islam is a religion of peace!

    So, Happy New Year to all my Muslim, Jewish, Christian and atheist friends.

    * Vice-President of the Conference of Imams of France-Paris, candidate for rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris

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