11/16/2015, 00.00
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For Nîmes imam, Islam should not be held hostage by extremists

by Hochine Drouiche
French imams condemn the Paris terrorist attacks and disassociate themselves from violence committed in "the name of our religion." At the same time, they ask Muslim communities to dare leading a life of dialogue and friendship with Europeans, without fear or arrogance. For centuries, Muslims have ruled out reason from their religious life. The vice president of French imams bears witness.

Paris (AsiaNews) – Confronted by the attacks in Paris and other acts of violence perpetrated by people shouting Allahu Akbar! (God is great!), many point the finger at Islam and all Muslims, raising questions about whether it is possible to coexist with either.

The Muslim community in France – the largest in Europe, between 5 and 10 per cent of the population – stands accused. Many wonder why they do not denounce the violence, why they do not condemn the terrorists. . . .

Yesterday, across from the Bataclan, where one of Friday’s massacres took place, a group of French imams gathered to honour the victims and sing France’s national anthem (pictured). Jewish religious leaders were also present.

One of the Muslim clerics was Hocine Drouiche, an imam in Nimes and vice-president of the Council of Imams of France. Here is what he said:

We strongly condemn these criminal attacks. For the imams of France, Islam is a religion of brotherhood, openness and respect. Muslims live in dignity in France, Italy, England and all European countries.

These attacks cannot be made in the name of Islam, which means life and hope, not death and hate. It is not only France that is attacked today, but it is all of humanity that is hurt.

We condemn this tragedy as French citizens but also as a Muslims because these attacks were made in the name of our religion.

Muslims are invited to condemn these attacks (through demonstrations and statements) in order not let Islam become a hostage in the hands of ignorant people and extremists.

The paradox for Europe’s Islamic communities is that there is no real will for dialogue and openness. We speak about tolerance and forgiveness but in fact, we fear dialogue with others. At the same time, we think that Islam is the only real religion in the world, that others are unbelievers.

This idea can lead to arrogance and pride among Muslims. Thus, modesty and respect of others should represent two pillars of morality in Islam!

When we speak about these values and enter in a process of dialogue in French society (with other religions, Jews, police, associations) we are accused of treason!

For this reason, we cannot find solutions if we do not have the help and cooperation of Muslims.

Now we have to have the courage to recognise that Muslims have not made a real commitment to finding a solution to the great problems that are radicalisation and hate.

I wish that the events in Paris will stir Muslims in France, Italy and throughout Europe in order to save coexistence and the future of our societies.

For centuries, Muslims have excluded raison and rationalism from their religious life. There is a real crisis of raison in modern Islamic thought. Consequently, Muslims live in a paradox, not only in terms of Islamic values but also European values.

We have to thank the French people for its wisdom and its understanding by not making the error of generalisation.

Most Muslims are tolerant and open-minded. Few extremists cannot stop coexistence and brotherhood. Our hope will be firmer and stronger provided that Muslims commit to cooperation and social action together against extremism and hate.

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