At the Great Mosque of Paris, future imams “unload their baggage”

The Grand Mosque of Paris
The Grand Mosque of Paris

“The best thing I heard this week, it’s what the Pope said. The press can’t say anything it wants, there are things we can’t talk about.” Students at the Institute of Theology at the Great Mosque of Paris cited Pope Francois when discussing the recent attacks at Charlie Hebdo. While flying to the Philippines the Pope said, “one shouldn’t provoke or insult the faith of others, or make a game of it.”

Every Saturday and Sunday at the Institute from 9 am to 7 pm adults take classes in order to become imams, or, for only two years in order to become a chaplain. Courses were suspended on January 10 and 11 due to recent “events” and restarted January 17.

Missoum Chaoui, a tutor and prison chaplain in Ile-de-France decided to facilitate discussion among his students, the “future leaders” of Islam. Men sit in one corner, women in the other. “Go ahead, unload your baggage,” encourages Chaoui in front of his first-year class.

The discussion is a reminder that Muslims “don’t have to excuse these crimes,” because the terrorists aren’t one of them. Or to clarify that “the Muslim community, it mourns these men but not the freedom of expression.” Another said, “It’s been said that there weren’t many Muslims who participated in the demonstration. They forget that ‘Muslim,’ isn’t written on our foreheads.” Some preferred to write “anger” on social media rather than “Je suis Charlie.” “Open your Facebook page, go on the Internet,” recommends Chaoui, “They took out their poison pens, take out pens of peace to show who the Prophet really was.”

Some expressed their frustration with “double standards,” such as the fact that “anti-Semitism is prohibited,” while Islamophobia is not. “It will come. We just have to work for it,” assured their teacher. “There will always be those who speak badly of the Prophet. He has already been called a sorcerer, a liar and he always pardoned them.”

“Caricatures, it’s just the beginning,” says one student. Examining the cartoons published in Charlie Hebdo he says, “The turban isn’t holy, it speaks volumes. For those who look hard, we see male genitalia, on the turban. And on the face…it’s like a woman’s private parts. It’s going around Facebook.” Chaoui interrupts and reframes: “Attention to what is open to interpretation.” Another older man doesn’t believe the media’s version. “The scenario, it was constructed in advance,” by others, he says. “It’s not what’s said, we didn’t see their faces,” he grumbles four or five times. “They’re at the forensic institute,” retorts the professor, “Then who is it?” he asks. No response. Another woman responds, “This newspaper was on the brink of bankruptcy, there are a lot of Muslims in France, we provoke an event…Now they have a lot of money.” Certain people nod their head, others don’t, but the whole room falls silent, even the professor. Two or three questions later the class is over.

Islam: Tomorrow the Festival of Sacrifice, CII prays for the dead in Lampedusa

Muslims around the world will celebrate the Islamic Festival of Sacrifice tomorrow (Eid al Adha). The festival celebrates the sacrifice made by Abraham mentioned in the Qur’an. This is the biggest holiday of the Muslim world and it coincides with end of the pilgrimage to Mecca. In some countries, such as Morocco, this festival is held the day after tomorrow. In Italy, about two million Muslims will pray tomorrow morning in mosques and in stadiums throughout the country. The most important prayer is scheduled in the Great Mosque of Rome, where about twenty thousand people will gather. The Islamic Italian Confederation (CII) sent a message of greetings for those celebrating. For the occasion, considering what is happening on the coast of Lampedusa, CII decided to hold a special prayer for migrants who died trying to reach our country and remember the tragedy of what is happening along the Sicilian coast.

International Business Times: http://it.ibtimes.com/articles/57488/20131014/islam.htm

Islam: The Grand Mosque of Rome, the 10 of July Ramadan will Begin

July 8, 2013

“On this occasion” said the Secretary-General of the Great Mosque of Rome, Abdellah Redouane “I present greetings to all Muslims of Italy calling upon God Almighty to spread peace over the whole world. Also this month of Ramadan is an opportunity for reconciliation and harmony between peoples. I ask all Muslims of Italy to take action to alleviate the suffering of the most vulnerable in this holy month and share this experience with them not only in the practice of worship but also in the spirit of solidarity made in Ramadan, mercy, and to make this Ramadan a month of brotherhood and harmony.”

Ramadan will begin on July 10 in Italy and the Arab countries of the Gulf and North Africa. The Muslim faithful fast from dawn to dusk and complete evening prayers (Tarawih). Families gather in the evening to break the fast together and have dinner.

CFCM slips into new crisis

23.06.2013

The Algerian dominated Great Mosque of Paris (GMP) quit a meeting of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) which was about to endorse the appointment of its director, Dalil Boubaker, as President of the Council.

The spokesperson of the GMP explained that “we left the meeting of the Board because we realized that there was a strategic alliance between Moroccans and Turks against the Great Mosque of Paris, challenging an agreement that we signed yesterday to exit the impasse to which the CFCM was heading to”.

As the crisis loomed, the GMP agreed to withdraw its candidate for the presidency of the CFCM, Chems Eddine Hafiz, disputed by other federations, especially the Morrocan led Rally of French Muslim (RMF).The RMF challenged the candidacy of Hafiz who acts as the lawyer of the Polisario Front, which is fighting for the independence of Western Sahara, annexed by the Rabat government in 1975. Instead of Mr. Hafiz, the GMP was eventually offered to name its director, Boubakeur,  as the President of the CFCM. Boubakeur had at first refused to take the presidency of the CFCM, which witnessed a landslide election win by the RMF in the elections for its regional councils on June 8. The pro-Morocco group dominated with 25 seats, against 8 seats for the Algerians and 7 for the Turks.

The CFCM was established in 2003 to provide the several million strong Muslim population of France a representative body.

Feminist activists burn Salafi flag

Le Figaro

03.04.2013

Three feminists of the Ukrain-based Femen movement have burnt the Salafi flag in front of the Great Mosque of Paris. The women, of whom two were white and one of Tunisian origin, burnt the flag as an expression of solidarity with a Tunisian feminist who had previously decried human rights abuses against women in Arab-Muslim societies.

French Interior Ministry Opens Strasbourg Mosque

News Agencies – September 27, 2012

 

French Interior Minister Manuel Valls opened the country’s largest Mosque in eastern France, in his first speech to Muslims after the insulting caricatures were released of the Prophet Mohammed. During the opening ceremony of the Great Mosque, Valls praised the wisdom of Muslim leaders, who have called their followers to keep calm following the publication of the caricatures by the Charlie Hebdo Weekly.

 

“Racism, fundamentalism are not part of Islam,” said the Minister, who also praised the wise and mature stance adopted by French Muslims. The Minister also warned that the government will expel those, who using the name of the Islam, try to attack institutions or cause any type of riots. The inauguration ceremony was attended by local authorities, as well as by representatives of other religions.

 

The building of the Great Mosque started in 1993 and was partially opened during the holy month of Ramadan in 2011, though it was closed afterwards to conclude the construction work.

Turkey to open Imam training centre in Paris

News Agencies – September 7, 2012

 

A dedicated training institute for imams will be opened in Strasbourg as part of an agreement between France and Turkey.
 From January 2013, the “Free Faculty of Islamic Theology” will offer training courses for 30 French students, including women. The project, the first of its kind in France, is being completely financed by Turkey and donations, and will involve spending two million euros to turn a former training centre for postal workers into the imam faculty.

 

Qualifications earned at the institute will be validated by the University of Istanbul. At the moment, imam training is being offered at places such as the Union of Islamic Organisations in France and the Great Mosque of Paris. Since 2008, the Catholic Institute of Paris has also been giving courses for future imams.

From the Northern League the “Anti-Immigrant” soap that bursts a political clash

In Sansepolcro, a town near Arezzo, the local Northern League has been denounced for having distributed samples of disinfectant to supposedly clean people’s hands from contacts with immigrants. The local sections of Rifondazione Comunista (Left), whose members confirm to have witnessed the event, have attacked the Northern League’s actions. The Northern League denies the accusation and claims that the soap was just an electoral gadget. Many national politicians are raising their objections against such a xenophobic initiative which they believe offends the identity and history of Italian people. Ahmad Giampiero Vincenzo, president of the Muslim Italian Intellectuals Association, consultant for immigration at the Senato’s Committee for Constitutional Affairs, and a member of the Great Mosque in Rome, will present a formal recourse against the Northern League defining its initiative as a serious incitement to racism that resembles similar facts taking place during the Fascist and Nazi regimes.

Confrontation in the Great Mosque of Ceuta

Last Friday a confrontation took place between the two main Muslim groups of Ceuta. Each one of the groups arrived to the Friday prayer’s with their own imam. Finally, the Police had to intervene surrounding the building and trying to pacify the several groups of believers. The Muslim community of Ceuta is divided in two factions; on the one hand there is “Unión de Comunidades Islámicas de Ceuta” related to the Tabligh movement and, on the other hand, the FEERI that have less support but has links to the Moroccan government. The two Muslim federations are disputing over the control of the Great Mosque to the city.

Mosque with 25-metre minarets to be constructed in Marseille

One of the largest mosques in France will soon find a home in the southern port city of Marseille, serving over 2,000 worshippers. The city’s mayor symbolically handed over the mosque’s key to Nordine Cheikh, commencing the start of renovation initiative. The mosque is expected to cost around eight million euro. Cheikh, the president of the association of the Great Mosque, expects that it will be ready to open in 2010. About one quarter of the city’s 800,000 residents are Muslims, of which around 40,000 are believed to be actively practicing – mostly with backgrounds veined in Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco. There are already about 60 mosques in the city, though most of these are situated in old buildings, shops, and warehouses.