I have repeatedly asked the question: “Where are the voices of the Imams in responding to terrorism and anti-semitism?” The silence has been more than disturbing throughout the years, and so was the following both surprising and much appreciated. This is the account that appeared this week in a Jewish newspaper called the Algemeiner. I think it’s important.
Thirty prominent French Imams issued a strongly-worded condemnation of anti-semitism and Islamic terrorism on Tuesday, stressing that the alternative of remaining silent “would make us complicit and therefore culpable.”
In a declaration published by the French daily Le Monde, the Imams described themselves as “indignant” – both as French citizens and as faithful Muslims – “at the confiscation of our religion by criminals.”
The group of thirty Imams represent mosques and Islamic centers in Paris, Strasbourg, Lyon, Nice and other French cities. Significantly, five of the signatories serve as chaplains to thousands of Muslim inmates in the French prison system – historically a fertile recruiting ground for radical Islamist groups.
In often emotional language, the declaration denounced what is called the “subversive expressions of Islam” that have “raged” in the French Muslim community, generating a “religious anarchy.”
“Some Imams unfortunately contributed, often unconsciously,” the Imams continued. “Courage compels us to recognize it.” The declaration added that “many Imams” had still not grasped “the harmful psychological effects on vulnerable minds” that their incendiary sermons had produced.
In an ambiguous condemnation of the suicide terrorism glorified by Islamists as “martyrdom,” the declaration stated that “theologically speaking, the martyr is the one who suffers unjust or sudden death, and not the one who seeks and provokes it.” The Imams urged young men attracted to radical Islam “to listen to the Prophet Muhammad’s warning that a Muslim who harms the life of an innocent person living in peace with Muslims will never breathe the perfume of Paradise.”
Would that there be more Islamic leaders who dare to stand up against evil. For not only us Jews have learned so well that all that evil needs to prevail is for supposedly good people to remain silent.