Kamel Kabtane, rector of the Great Mosque of Lyon has made a “clear and precise position” concerning his opinion about the Islamic State of Iraq. The French Council of the Muslim Faith recently released a statement stating, “The CFCM calls on French Muslims to reaffirm their commitment to religious liberty and to respect the beliefs of each human being, wherever they are located.”
However, this statement was not sufficient for Kabtane. “It must be said that the Muslim community is against the massacres of Christians in Iraq,” he said. In Iraq, the Islamic State is persecuting Christians who live in the north of the country. Kabtane believes that “French Muslims would be proud to severely condemn the abominations committed by the executioners in the self-proclaimed Islamic State.” “They are bastards over there…In France, Muslims wish to leave peacefully” he added.
According to the Kabtane, public opinion confuses extremist groups with traditional believers. He stresses that one must not confound “Muslims with all fanatic groups,” and adds that “public opinion is infected with this poison.” Kabtane is known to act autonomously from the French Council of the Muslim Faith.
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.”
August 7, 2014
Eleven members of the same family arrived in Paris on Thursday, August 7 after fleeing religious persecution in Iraq, where troops of the Islamic state continue to advance. In mid-July, Christians in Mossoul, the second-largest city in Iraq, were forced to flee after troops issued an ultimatum: convert, flee or be killed. The family was granted a visa for asylum for persecution.
According to the Association of Support for Minorities of the East (AEMO), the family is the first Christian family to benefit from this status since the government announced on July 28 that it would welcome Christian refugees. The family arrived from Baghdad “arms full of bags and accompanied by half a dozen activists.”
Nabeel Yonan Yousif, 53 years old, thanked the French government. He added, “The situation for Christians in Iraq is disastrous. They treat us like miscreants. I hope there will be a move to save other Christians who are threatened, notably in Mossoul.”
After Kurdish forces retreated Jihadists took Qaraqosh, the city with the largest Christian population. Qaraqosh had over 50,000 citizens with a majority Christian population and had also housed those who fled from Mossoul.
August 6, 2014
August 6, “Mossoul’s persecutions. The killings in Gaza. ‘No cause is more important than the other.’ Injustice must be fought wherever it comes from,’” said Izzet Cosgun and Father Jean Baffier in a joint statement discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Cosgun is a Muslim teacher currently working in a Catholic school. Father Baffier is in charge of “relationships with the Muslim world” in his department at the school.
Both have worked together in a joint initiative to host a meeting in Nevers to discuss the current situation in Gaza. “Muslims are concerned by what is happening in Gaza, but are also in solidarity with what is happening to Christians in Iraq,” affirmed Cosgun. When commenting on the political situation in Iraq he stated that any violence was “mercenary acts that do not represent our beliefs.”
Father Baffier confirmed that a delegation of French bishops gathered in July in northern Iraq to express “the solidarity of Christians in France.” The bishops “brought another point of view. It’s not Islam that is fighting Christianity over there. It’s a band of rebels that took power in that city. Don’t make it a misunderstanding. This would only play into the hands of those who want to divide France.”
“Christians are on their ancestral territory in Mossoul,” said Cosgun. He added, “They are at home. Like the Palestinians are at home in Gaza. Like French Muslims are at home in France.”
When discussing the recent incident of racist tagging in Charité-sur-Loire, Cosgun said that “People that do that are enemies of peaceful coexistence. It’s necessary to fight this because the future, it’s peaceful coexistence. Why leave the situation up to those who represent nothing?”
Cosgun believes that “it’s not his meeting that’s going to change things” but hopes that political leaders will pay attention to the initiative. He cited Rumi: “If the fair had as much courage as the unjust, the world would be less unfair.”
The leaders of three mosques in Nevers will be present at the meeting. The bishop has also urged all the parishes in the area to participate.