Imam of Nîmes: We need to stop depicting Israel as Islam’s ‘eternal enemy' (II)
Hocine Drouiche expresses appreciation for the Abraham Accord between the Emirates and Israel. Collaboration between Arabs and Jews would be a positive step towards indisputable progress for the peoples of the region. But for decades, Salafist Islam has proposed an apocalyptic war, with goal of a globally dominant Islam. Witnesses of moderate and enlightened Islam are not helped by the West and are marginalized by the Muslim world. Part II of the essay by the French imam, of Algerian origin.
Nîmes (AsiaNews) - For at least 20 years, in faith formation for young people and adults in schools and mosques, the notion of peace has not advanced at all within Muslim culture. War and hatred of non-Muslims in general and of Jews in particular has filled the juridical and theological books of Islam.
The disbeliever (kafir), the hypocrite (monafiq), the apostate (mortad), etc. are the main words that we remember in these programs full of hatred towards each other!
Enlightened Islam that seeks peace, humanism, human fraternity, has no place within the various Islamic schools (Médrassah), because these great imams built their texts with a spirit that glorifies war, conquest or defence against all that is foreign to Islam.
Everywhere, the reformists have been persecuted, expelled from their countries of origin; they include Nasr Hamed Abou Zayd [i], Taslima Nasreen[ii], Hassan Chalghoumi[iii], Zineb El Rhazoui[iv], Kamel Daoud  and many others.
Dogmatists always portray Israel as the eternal enemy of Islam and Muslims. Collaboration between Arabs and Jews would be a positive step towards indisputable progress for the peoples of the region. Israeli democracy, technology, history and the openness of its people represent a real wealth to be shared with all neighbouring countries, rich in capital to invest, in oil, gas and skilled and experienced workforce.
The Israeli premier was not wrong when he said that the El Al plane [which landed in Dubai] was the bearer of great hope for peace.
This courageous journey was a real seed of hope sown on the soil of the emirates and that will give birth and develop peace groups in Arab countries, which will resist the Islamist and extremist populism that unfortunately has dominated the Arab-Muslim world for several decades. Today it does so with the hegemonic and opportunistic growth of the Turkish leader Erdogan and the aggressive and vengeful Iranian regime.
For my part, I will always fight these criminals who have separated me from my children with all my might. In fact, because of my unequivocal commitments, my son has dubbed me "a traitor of Islam, a collaborator of France, who has sold out to Jews and Zionists".
After 7 years of teaching, I was fired because I gave humanist speeches, and because I was always in solidarity with the Jewish people, always commemorating the tragedy of the Shoah.
When I asked for help to support my centre ("Human fraternity") in Nîmes, in the south of France, especially during the Covid crisis, several Muslim leaders replied: "Go to your Jewish friends or transform your mosque in a centre for the Holocaust ". For them the Shoah is just a lie, a Jewish invention!
All this was total humiliation for me and for the faithful of our mosque!
Secular institutions in France cannot help religious organizations and the majority of secular citizens do not seem to be very generous towards these organizations.
Instead, they, the Islamists, continue to receive large sums of capital from abroad.
Their populist speeches, their vengeful posturing, result in attracting considerable funding from those countries that also have an interest in maintaining the tense situation in the state.
A Muslim Islamist imam who runs a large mosque in southern France, who uses his rostrum and Friday sermons for defamation and insults, stated in 2016 that anyone who refuses or opposes this (Islamist) speech must leave the city.
I did not give in, and I did not self-exile even then, under threats against me and my loved ones.
I believe that change must come from within Muslims, and must be carried out by Muslims, reformists, enlightened and integrated. Abandoning the field to integralists would be the greatest gift that we could offer to them.
When one witnesses a humanist discourse and works for peace within the Muslim world, one must unfortunately expect to receive intimidation, threats, suffer the destruction of one's marriage, to be separated from one's children, to flee and go through a long period of psychological depression, with the fear of possible physical elimination.
The noble cause of the Palestinians has always been warped and exploited by certain Arab regimes and especially by Islamists, to manipulate young people and thus destabilize and discredit those who demand the search for peace between Muslims and their Israeli neighbors.
Many Muslims reject the negationist, extremist and inhuman positions on the Nazi genocide against the Jewish people. Muslims are even banned from visiting their holy places in Jerusalem and elsewhere in Israel.
The extremist groups of opportunist political Islam are also faced with profound divisions and divergences. The hatred held against Israel has unfortunately become an important factor that unites Muslims in the West and in the East. In spite of all the threats and intimidation we suffer daily from these extremist groups, who work against us, but above all against peace and human fraternity, we want to continue our struggle to reject taboos, break down walls and work together for the construction of this better world that we hope for, and above all to give birth to a pacified, integrated, trusting Islam in the humanim that flanks faith.
Reform of Islam can only come from within Muslims. We can only thank these courageous leaders who took the initiative for peace in the Middle East, MBZ, MBS, His Holiness Pope Francis, Benjamin Netanyahu, Donald Trump, Jareed Kouchner, without forgetting the secret soldiers of peace who have been courageously working for so many years to bring the peoples in the midst of Muslims, manipulated by a political and hateful Islam, which is waiting for nothing but an apocalyptic war, to make Islam reign over the whole world.
I invite all women and men of good will among Muslims and non-Muslims to come and join in this reconciliation movement that we all desire.
(End of Part II. For Part I see here)
* Vice-president of the Conference of Imams of France. Former candidate for the leadership of the Grand Mosque of Paris
[i] Egyptian writer and academic (1943-2010) condemned by a fatwa and had to flee to Holland for having expressed a hermeneutic (interpretation) of the Koran.
[ii] Bangladeshi writer. Born in 1962, she wrote critical works of religion as oppressing the dignity of women. She has received death threats and lives in exile in India.
[iii] Tunisian Imam of Drancy (St Denis). Born in 1972, during the controversy over the Islamic veil, he supported the indication of France, which prohibited the use of the veil in public places. It also has good relations with French Jewish organizations.
[iv] Journalist of Moroccan origin (1982-); from 2011 to 2017 she worked for the magazine "Charlie Hebdo", writing about religion and criticizing Islam. On January 7, 2015, when the massacre of 12 members of the editorial team took place, she was on a Christmas holidays in Morocco.