11/03/2017, 16.17
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Islamist preacher who wants to humble Christians

by Kamel Abderrahmani*

In a debate in France, the preacher Maamar Metmati said that Christians can interact with Muslims only if they convert to Islam or pay a tax. The Qurʾānic verse he cites is taken out of its historical context and manipulated to feed the culture of hatred. Anti-racism associations have been silent so far.

Paris (AsiaNews) – As I start a petition of support for our Christian brothers and sisters in France to keep the Cross on top of the statue of John Paul II (in Ploërmel, Brittany), I came across a debate between Islamist militants and a very dangerous Islamist preacher in France, who manipulates the sacred texts.

In this debate, Maamar Metmati cites chapter (Surah) 9, verse (Ayad) 29 (of the Qurʾān) to justify his thesis according to which relations between Christians and Muslims must be based on the alternative of conversion or the imposition of a humbling tax.

The verse says: “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, from among the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”

This verse should not be taken out of context. The verse in question as used by this formidable preacher refers to the fighting between the Eastern Romans (Byzantines) and Muslims in Tabūk.

The Tabūk Campaign was the result of a conflict that began even before the conquest of Makkah. One of the missions sent to various parts of Arabia after the Pact of al-Ḥudaybiyah visited the clans who lived in the northern regions next to Syria. The majority of these people were Christians, influenced by the Eastern Roman Empire.

Contrary to the generally accepted principles of international law, the Romans killed fifteen members of the Muslim delegation near a place known as Zat-u-Talah (or Zat-i-Itlah). Only Ka'ab ibn Umair Ghifari, the head of the delegation, managed to escape and report the sad incident. What is more, Shurahbil ibn Amr, the Christian governor of Busra had also put to death Haritli ibn Umair, the ambassador of the Prophet Mohamed (peace), and who had been sent to him as a subordinate. These events convinced the Prophet that strong action should be taken to make the territory near the Eastern Roman Empire safe and secure for Muslims.

If we apply a linguistic analysis to this verse, we will notice that it is not about all Christians. It says clearly "from among the People of the Book (Bible)”. In other words, it is necessary to fight a specific group, not all those who received the Scripture.

Thus, far from history, far from the contexts of the past, the relationship between Muslims and Christians must be based on respect, peace and fairness. This Qur'anic recommendation concerning such a precise incident (the Tabūk conflict) should not be extended to relations between Muslims, Christians and Jews in our time.

Unfortunately, it is tragic to see some people, like this Islamist preacher, tar everything with the same brush, fuelling the sense of fear and hatred of non-Muslims, thus projecting this fear onto the scriptures of all religions.

To go back to this serious incident, I wonder whether the MRAP (Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l'amitié entre les peoples, Movement Against Racism and for Friendship between Peoples), the LDH (Ligue des droits de l’homme, Human Rights League), and SOS Racisme will have the courage to condemn it as a form of incitement to hatred and discrimination, which the penal code punishes with a € 45,000 fine and one year in prison?

*Muslim student in Paris

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