A French Muslim leader known for his work cultivating interfaith understanding and his efforts to combat radicalization has received death threats after he appeared in a video with a senior IDF officer and spokesman.
Hassen Chalghoumi, Imam of the Drancy Mosque in Seine-Saint-Denis northeast of Paris is founder of the Conference of Imams and a long-time advocate of interfaith dialogue in France.
Born in Tunisia, Chalghoumi immigrated to France in 1996, and was naturalized in 2005.
Last Wednesday, Chalghoumi met with IDF Brig. Gen. and senior spokesman Ronen Manelis in Paris, during which the two recorded a joint video statement which was later released to social media.
In the video, Chalghoumi condemned the Hamas terror organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Iranian government for their promotion of “violence and terror” in the Middle East.
“I was happy to meet and get to know [Manelis], I sat and talked with him about peace and coexistence,” said Chalghoumi. “I believe that Islam is a religion of mercy, of love, coexistence, and dialogue. And the solution in both Palestine and Israel and around the world is with peace and dialogue, and not with violence, terror, and killing.”
“We believe in human dignity, in human happiness. And not to use scripture to kill innocent people. I hope from the bottom of my heart that peace will happen between the two people and that we will condemn violence and terror, especially the terror of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas and Iran, which threatens the area and peace in the area.”
The meeting between Manelis and Chalghoumi drew criticism from some in the Muslim world, and according to a report by Yediot Ahronot, death threats.
Nevertheless, Chalghoumi has said he will continue his efforts to promote religious reconciliation and dialogue, noting that he has received similar threats in the past.
In September 2013, Chalghoumi and his family were during a visit to his home country of Tunisia, by an assailant who called him a “Zionist collaborator”.
“He insulted me, called me a ‘Zionist and collaborator’ and then he hit me,” Chalghoumi told Le Parisien. Chalghoumi was taken to a local hospital for treatment, but according to AFP he did not suffer serious injury.