France: Muslims react angrily to Tribune blaming “Islamization” for a “New Anti-Semitism.

French Muslim leaders reacted angrily Monday to a Manifesto published over the week end blaming “the new anti-semitism” in France on “Islamization” and which calls on Muslim theological leaders to get rid of the texts in the Quran which could be used to justify crime. (click here)

The Rector of the Great Mosque of Paris called the text signed by 300 leading French figures “an unjust and delirious trial” against French Muslim citizens. Dalil Boubakeur warned that the tribune “presents an obvious risk of pitting religious communities against each other.”

The tribune comes on the heels of a similar text signed by 200 leading intellectuals denouncing the “Islamization of France”. (click here) Sunday’s Manifesto, also signed by three former Prime Ministers, and former President Sarkozy, castigates what it calls a new form of anti-semitism being fed by “radical Islam’ which is responsible for a “low volume ethnic cleansing”  aimed at Jews in some quartes of France.

They called on Muslim authorities to “strike as obsolete” certain verses in the Quran “which call for murder and punishment  of Jews, Christians and unbelievers.” Several Muslim clerics also signed the Manifesto.

“The majority of French citizens of the Muslim faith,” Boubakeur said ,“attached to Republican values did not wait for this tribune to fight and denounce, for decades, anti-semitism et anti-muslim racism in all its forms.”

The rector of the Bordeaux Mosque called the text “a monumental intellectual error.” Tareq Oubrou said “attributing anti-Semitism to Islam is almost blasphemy as nearly two-thirds of the Prophets in the Quaran are Jewish.” Oubrou denies that the Quran calls to kill Jews and Christians.

Saying the Manifesto is “nauseating and fateful” , the president of the National Observatory against Islamophobia, Abdallah Zekri asked the signatories to the text to “stop insulting Islam and Muslims.”

Tensions have been rife in France between Muslims, who could number as many as six million, and other communities following a wave of terrorist attacks which have killed 250 and left hundreds more injured. Recent anti-semitic murders and agressions have alarmed authorities. The brutal killing of a 85-year-old Holocaust survivor in Paris in March, sparked outrage and massive protests. 

Those who signed the tribune are pointing a finger at “radicalized Muslims” in the projects and Salafist preachers who are stirring hate. French police have 20,000 of these extremists on a list of potential danger. Jews in France, who number 550,000, have taken their children out of public schools and moved to other towns to get away from the harassment of some of their Muslim neighbors thus abandoning towns where Jews have lived for generations.

French Muslims feel they are being unjustly stigmatized and say they are the first to be victims of terrorist violence. They claim their religion does not condone acts of Jihad. Their supporters point out that « moderate Muslims are also killed because they are too Luke-warm, too open, to reformer, too liberal.”

The majority of French Muslims are at the bottom of the social ladder. Many of these youth, where unemployment can reach 45%, can be attracted to a radical theology which offers them the chance to strike back at a country they feel has rejected them.

One of those who signed the Tribune, French writer Pascal Bruckner, denied the text is “ a call to stigmatize” Muslims. He told France Inter radio it is a call “for an insurrection of those of good faith, and in this good faith, Muslim reformers, liberal Muslims, enlightened Muslims, obviously agree.”

The right wing Euro-deputy, Brice Hortefeux said: “you can never denounce anti-semitism enough.”

The French Justice Minister is worried we coud be heading towards violence. “We have to do everything to avoid a war of communities,” Nicole Belloubet said. “France in its construction is a country of mixing, of cohesion.”

The anger expressed by Muslim leaders got support on the left. Manuel Bompard of La France Insoumises party says that “a ruthless fight is necessary to unite the country. Not divide it…The vast majority of Muslims just want to practice their religion in peace.” He said they are the first to be outraged  by acts against a person for his religious beliefs.