European Jewish Congress
Israel Chief Rabbi to speak at Paris Mosque following anti-Semitic surge in France
Combating anti-Semitism
Israel Chief Rabbi to speak at Paris Mosque following anti-Semitic surge in France

The European Jewish Press

By EJP


The agreement came following a meeting with the Chief Imam of Paris, Hassen Chalghoumi, in Jerusalem on Monday.

Chalghoumi was visiting the country ahead of the France-Israel Democracy and Religion Forum in Tel Aviv on Wednesday and Thursday.

On an historic visit to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial and museum in Jerusalem, the Tunisian-born cleric declared that “speaking about the Holocaust , this human atrocity, will instil in us the sense that it must never happen again”, adding that “those who deny the Holocaust are nothing but accomplices to these criminals”.

During the course of their meeting, Rabbi Metzger related to the Imam a visit he had made to Kazakhstan, during which he resorted to praying in a mosque as there were no synagogues.

The Imam professed he hadn’t realised Jews were allowed to pray in mosques, at which point he invited his Jewish counterpart to speak at the Grande Mosque of Paris to raise awareness between the faiths.

The Islamic leader also serves as an Imam to the mosque of Drancy, a Parisian suburb renowned for being the deportation point for many French Jews from which they were sent to concentration camps during the Holocaust.

His outspokenness on the topic has not always earned him praise from within the Muslim community, with his home being ransacked following a Holocaust commemoration he presided over in May 2006 in the town.

However, he has defended his position saying he is “first and foremost a lover of peace” who feels the need to speak out against hatred, which he insists is not only a Jewish issue, but also a “human one”.

Condemning recent anti-Semitic attacks near Lyon and in Toulouse, he said:“There is a rise in racist and anti-Semitic hatred at the moment in Greece, Poland and France. Today, during the economic crisis, it is time for solidarity, for working hand in hand.”

On Saturday, three Jews wearing skullcaps were attacked in Villeurbanne near the French city of Lyon by a group of ten men. This followed a shooting at a Toulouse Jewish school in March, where French Islamist radical Mohamed Merah killed three children and an adult at close range.

Speaking of his plans to visit Ramallah, where he planned to preach a message of tolerance, Hassen Chalghoumi expressed his desire for peace in the region, as well as for improved relations with the rest of the Arab world. “I hope one day millions of Muslims come here (to Yad Vashem) from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Algeria. Then there will be peace”, he said.

Thursday, June 07, 2012
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