Dalil Boubakeur, the rector of Paris' Grand Mosque.
(photo credit: CHARLES PLATIAU / REUTERS)
The head of the Great Mosque of Paris denounced letter signed by some 300 French intellectuals, artists and politicians that accused radicalized Muslims in France of antisemitism.
“Do not conflate political Islam and French Muslims,” Dalil Boubakeur said in a statement.
“The president of the republic has repeated this, all the prime ministers, even Marine Le Pen [have made the same distinction].”
He called the letter’s generalizations “unjust and delirious.”
“French citizens of the Muslim confession are largely attached to their republican values and weren’t waiting for this manifesto to denounce and fight decades of antisemitism and Islamophobia in all its forms,” he added.
Boubakeur objected to the accusation that French Muslims are responsible for what the letter called a “quiet ethnic purging” in Paris that has seen Jewish families leaving neighborhoods which they feel have become hostile or unsafe.
Ahmet Ogras, the head of the French Council of the Muslim Faith umbrella group, said there was one thing on which everyone agree, namely, “That we must all unite against antisemitism.”
While the letter, which was written by Philippe Val, the former director of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, also placed blame on silence from the media with regard to antisemitism, much of the scorn was saved for French Muslims.
Among the signatories of the letter were several imams, as well as France’s Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia, who said he also took issue with parts of the letter.
In an interview with FranceTV, Korsia said he found the letter’s demand to strike Koranic verses calling for violence against Jews and Christians from the liturgy “inconceivable.”
Part of the letter’s intent, though, he noted, was to “shake things up,” and to cause society to “reflect on a form of abandonment and indifference.”
Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet, a signatory of the manifesto, noted that France “is a mixed country, a country of cohesion,” and that its citizens and government “will do all that is possible to oppose this war of communities” the letter referenced. “This letter,” she added, “is indicative of that concern.”
Former education minister Luc Ferry, who also signed the letter, suggested the text perhaps did not go far enough and said the author could not “name things” in more explicit terms for fear of being accused of Islamophobia.