Imam in Drancy, France targeted by Islamic radicals

The head of a mosque in Drancy, a northeastern suburb of Paris, was targeted by a gang of so-called Islamic radicals who interrupted the services and threatened to “liquidate him, this imam of the Jews.”

The mob, about 80-strong, burst into the French mosque, halting a meeting of some 200 other imams led by Hassen Chalghoumi, who has consistently spoken out against Islamic extremism.

The extremists called the Muslim spiritual leader an “infidel” (heathen) and a “renegade.” At the time, Chalghoumi was chairing a meeting of the Conference of Imams, an organization established just last year to promote better relations between the various faiths in France, especially Jews and Muslims.

“They started to cry Allahu Akbar’,” Chalghouri told reporters after the incident. “Then they insulted me, my mosque, the Jewish community and the [French] Republic. They left after an hour and a half.”

One of the younger at 36 and most liberal imams in France, the Tunisian-born Chalghoumi, is a naturalized French citizen. He has been repeatedly attacked by Islamic radicals, and has also received death threats in the past in response to his statements against anti-Semitism. Nevertheless, the imam told an interviewer on Radio Orient that he would continue to work against extremism and towards improving Muslim-Jewish relations in France. “It is our future that is at stake,” he said.

The imam confirmed that he would file a formal complaint with police against the gang that burst into his mosque on Monday. The imam and his mosque are currently under police protection.