English News

  • youtube
  • facebook
  • twitter

Top Islamic scholar says local Muslims must hold peace talks with French govt

Sheikh Mohammed Abu Zaid, Chairman of the Sunni Court and the imam of the largest mosque in Saida, near Beirut, has urged France and its Muslim community to hold dialogue and improve their relations.

State-owned German broadcaster <em>Deutsche Welle</em> reported that the well-known Islamic scholar has a three-point advice for the French government headed by President Emmanuel Macron as well as the Muslims. Abu Zaid wants the French government to be open to the six-million Muslim people in France, wants the imams to be trained in the country they live in but does not want the European country to close mosques as, “people will not stop praying or listening to imams, they will just do this secretly.”

Over the past few months, France has witnessed a number of terror-related incidents including the beheading of school teacher Samuel Paty for showing cartoons of Prophet Mohammed. Macron had denounced the communal attacks in strong words saying: "Islam is a religion that is in crisis all over the world today, we are not just seeing this in our country." He criticised the attacks as "Islamic separatism" and "Islamic terror attacks", fuelling rage against France in the Muslim world and calls for boycott of French products.

Former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad justified the communal killings by migrants and said in a series of tweets that Muslims have a right to kill the French people for committing historical massacres.

However, despite the backlash against France, as a moderate Islamic scholar, Abu Zaid has pushed for dialogue between Muslims and non-Muslims in Europe. He has also taught at Stanford University in the US.

Abu Zaid made it clear to the French Muslims that they have to “see themselves as part of the country they live in and not just as visitors.” He categorically told French Muslims that they should consider themselves French citizens and not bring "your Turkish, Indian, Pakistani or Lebanese customs but you should live according to the new country.” He wants them to defend that country which has welcomed them and given them citizenship.

Considered to be one of the handful of Muslim clerics who advocates for a moderate version of Islam, he feels that France should take on the task of inspecting the 2,600 mosques and prayer rooms despite it being a secular country. He has supported the French government's plans to train the imams and also bring out a charter to define what is allowed and disallowed in the country.

After the spate of killings a couple of months back, France decided to bring in laws to promote French values in its Muslims population. It has almost finalised its charter of values for Muslim clerics and now expects them to sign if they want to be given recognition as clerics. According to the government, this allows the country to better integrate Muslim priests into the French society and helps separate religion from politics.

While supporting the French government over a number of its plans regarding the imams, Abu Zaid also wants the government to not close down certain mosques as well as hold a dialogue with its Muslim community.

France had earlier seen terror in November 2015 when the Charlie Hebdo office was attacked and 12 people were killed. Subsequent violence in Paris took many more lives over the next few days and Muslim countries saw protests over what they called insult to the Prophet..