September 30, 2010
This short article profiles the Drancy imam, Hassen Chalghoumi, now often considered an icon of “moderate Islam” in France. Chalghoumi has received a great deal of attention for taking a public position against full-face coverings in France and for a law that would ban them. This position has meant that he has been both subject to harassment and praise from different parties. He has recently published a book, Pour l’Islam de France (For Islam of France, Le CHerche Midi, 424 pgs). With reference to the Qur’an, Chalghoumi offers a new interpretation of questions of Islamic law.
Hassen Chalghoumi (born Tunis, 1972) is the imam of the Drancy mosque in Seine-Saint-Denis (near Paris) and one of France’s best known and most outspoken Muslim leaders. He has received many death threats for his statements, the latest being in January 2010, when he was chased out of his Mosque because of a statement he made in relation to the Islamic scarf controversy in France, supporting French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s draft law to ban the burqa. Some eighty people stormed the Drancy mosque, where he was chairing a meeting of the “Conference of Imams”, an organisation that he founded in 2009 to improve interfaith relations in France. He was quoted as saying “with a bit of cloth over their faces, what can these women share with us? If they want to wear the veil, they can go to a country where it’s the tradition, like Saudi Arabia”.
Married with five children, he studied in Syria and Pakistan before coming to France in 1996. He is a naturalised French citizen.