When French Muslims support the Christians of the East

Facing the chaos of jihadists in the Islamic State of Ira, France’s Muslim community has not stayed silent. Instead, it has voiced its support for the Christian and Yezidi minorities that are currently being persecuted in Iraq.

“Faced with the challenges of fanatics and extremists from all sides, believers and humanists from all cultures and religions must mobilize to bring together peoples and communities. It’s about building ‘bridges’ while some would build ‘walls’” affirmed Anouar Kbibech, president of the Rally of Muslims in France (RMF) when responding to the “jihadist threat” of the “so-called Islamic State” proclaimed in Iraq.

As they have already stated on numerous occasions, French Muslim authorities stress that Islam is a “religion of peace” and maintain that it must not be associated with any form of terrorism. “Any crime of terror is an attack against all of humanity” stated Kamel Kabtane, rector of the Great Mosque of Lyon and Laid Bendidi, president of the Regional Council of the Muslim Faith (CRCM), addressing the acts of violence perpetrated by the Islamic State against Christian Iraqis.

Dalil Boubakeur, rector of the Great Mosque of Paris and president of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), called on “Muslim countries to leave behind their cold indifference concerning the massacres of Christians and Yazidis.” The RMF stated that Islam is deeply committed to religious freedom as stated in the Quranic verse (2:256) “Al Baqara: no constraint in religion.”

Editorial: Muslims and Christians in Solidarity in France

The “ethnic and religious purification” in Iraq is shocking the world. In order to resist the forces of the Islamic State, Iraqi forces are receiving reinforcements from the American air force. Although no one is sure if these actions will be “sufficient” to stop these offensives, in France the “non-extremist” Muslims condemn the actions of their fanatic coreligionists. The Rally of French Muslims (RMF) strongly condemned the actions of extremists and stressed that Islam is a “religion of peace.”

The RMF calls on the international community “to act in order to stop a violence that spares no Iraqi ethnic or religious community, and who even attacks historical monuments of world heritage.” It further called for “French Muslims to keep the Iraqi people in their prayers, with respect for diversity and religious beliefs.”

The president of the Union of French Mosques (UMF) Mohammed Moussaoui also “firmly condemned the injustices affecting this community of faith.” The organization stated that “those who persecute men and women for their faith and their convictions bear a heavy responsibility before God and man.” Similar to the RMF, the Union called for member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to “make every effort so that Eastern Christians can practice their faith in dignity and freedom.”

The association Imams of France and its president Ahmed Miktar stated that the violence toward Christians is “condemned by all the ulemas of the Muslim world…The Christians of the Middle East are full citizens. They must be able to live freely in their country without any ideology or any person having the right to take it away.” His association reaffirmed its “support for the Christian part of our country and reaffirmed that these tragedies should not undermine the peaceful coexistence that we have built.”

The article concludes: “We know that we are in solidarity in a struggle that should in no case transform into a conflict of religions and civilization.”