Christophe Ena Associated Press People participating in the march against anti-Semitism organized on Sunday, November 12, in Paris
The words of an imam seeming to minimize Anti-Semitic acts in France, on the rise since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, outraged the Jewish community on Tuesday, a sign of growing tensions with Muslim leaders, largely absent from the marches against anti-Semitism on Sunday.
< p>The controversy arose from the comments of Abdelali Mamoun, an imam of the Grand Mosque of Paris, who asked on RMC “where are” the anti-Semitic acts recorded in France, a country which has the largest Jewish community in Europe and several million inhabitants of the Muslim faith.
“I would like us to reveal them so that we can show solidarity” with the Jews of France, said Mr. Mamoun. “I am not saying that the figures are false, but they are not revealed, not apparent,” he regretted, wishing not “not proofs” but “concrete elements”.
The Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, deploring “very shocking insinuations”, quickly gave a count of the 1,518 anti-Semitic acts recorded since October 7, the date of the bloody and unprecedented attacks by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas against Israel: 50% tags, posters, banners, 22% threats and insults, 8% attacks on property, 2% assault and battery…
The imam then apologized on BFMTV, assuring that “never in his life” did he question the reality of these acts. But emotion ran high in the Jewish community. “Deeply outraged”, the Jewish Consistory deplored that the imam “is becoming the spokesperson for conspiracy theories”.
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Joël Mergui, the president of this main Jewish religious institution in the country, criticized on Jewish institutions of France, Yonathan Arfi, estimated that “when we do not want to see the problem of anti-Semitism, it is because we are part of the problem.”
And even if the rector of the Great Mosque, Chems-eddine Hafiz, distanced himself from remarks made “in a personal capacity” by the imam, for the Consistory “the venom of doubt was instilled”.
“Do not trivialize”
Already, on Monday, tensions were expressed when a rabbi from the Paris region, Moché Lewin, resigned from a working committee of the Grand Mosque, on the grounds that it refused to qualify him as a “terrorist”. attack of October 7 and to participate in the march organized Sunday in Paris against anti-Semitism by the presidents of the Senate and the National Assembly.
Very few representatives of Islam were present at this march, which brought together 105,000 people in Paris. In total, more than 180,000 people demonstrated in France on Sunday.
The subject was discussed on Monday during a meeting of religions convened by the head of state, Emmanuel Macron. Upon leaving, the rector of the Great Mosque repeated that “we should have fought against racism.”
Because, since October 7, “there has also been an outburst of declarations made against Muslims,” he argued.
Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the Union of Mosques of France , had, as early as last Wednesday, considered that the call for Sunday's march, “without a word on Islamophobia” was “unfortunately not likely to bring people together.”
“Jews n “have not made an amalgam, the least we could do would be to recognize it and not trivialize things in a march against racism”, objected Mr. Mergui on Tuesday, on the sidelines of the solemn start of the Rabbinical School of Paris.
To play appeasement, the leaders of Christian religions met on Monday the chief rabbi of France, then the rector of the Great Mosque.
The objective was “especially to reflect together on the implementation of concrete initiatives” to “strengthen interreligious harmony among the younger generations”, underlined these Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox leaders in a press release on Tuesday.