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Ignorance may not hold hostages

PARIS (SE): A group of Muslim imams and Jewish religious leaders gathered near the site of the attack on Bataclan on November 16 to sing the French national anthem and honour the victims of the violence.

The vice president of the Council of Imams of France, Hocine Drouiche, said, “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.”

He said that Muslims must not allow Islam to become hostage to ignorant people and extremists, as he encouraged Muslim people in Europe to come out in the streets and voice their opposition to the Islamic State publicly.

Drouiche said that the paradox for the Islamic communities of Europe is that there is no real will to dialogue or be open.

“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,” he reflected.

He said that this can lead to arrogance and pride, adding that he believes that the two pillars for Islam in Europe should become modesty and respect for others.

Drouiche said that without the cooperation of other Muslims themselves, it is impossible for Islam to succeed at this, because there is also a Catch-22, as when Muslims speak of these values in French society, they are accused of treason by members of their own faith.

Nevertheless, he said that Islam must play a part in finding a solution, as it tends to exclude reason from religious life, leaving people living a paradox in terms of their religious values, as well as European values.

AsiaNews reported him as saying, “We have to have the courage to recognise that Muslims have not made a real commitment to finding a solution to the great problems of radicalisation and hate… We have to thank the French people for their wisdom and understanding by not making the error of generalisation.”

A statement from the Commission of Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union Community, signed by its secretary, Father Patrick Daly, says, “Barbarism, such as we have witnessed in Paris, calls for a response from the civilised world.” 

Father Daly adds, “It is vital that Europe presents a united front to the terrorist threat, that it be united too in its foreign and defence policy.”

He says that the forces which are currently threatening the peace of Europe do not respect national borders.

He adds on behalf of the bishops that, because of this, it is imperative that the 28 member states of the Union act together.

“Our collective security is at issue, as is our freedom to live together in peace,” he says.

Father Daly describes the attacks of November 13 as a revulsion to the human spirit. “They are beyond contempt,” he says.

Nevertheless, he stresses that neither France nor Europe can give in to these campaigns of terror or the violence that are being perpetrated on their people.

“We know how frightening it is to hear close to home the sound of gunfire and explosions while having very little information about ongoing operations. I hope that in the days to come everyone will find the strength to express what he lived and felt in order to find more serenity,” Bishop Pascal Delannoy said.


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