News / Europe

French Imams, Chaplains Seek Ways to Combat Islamist Radicalization

A passer-by places flowers at the entrance of the Jewish Museum in Brussels, Belgium, May 27, 2014.
A passer-by places flowers at the entrance of the Jewish Museum in Brussels, Belgium, May 27, 2014.
Reuters
— Islamic prayer leaders and prison chaplains in France, jolted by a French Islamist's killing spree at the Brussels Jewish Museum, have begun discussing ways to better fight the radicalization of young Muslims.
 
About 30 imams from southeastern France, meeting in Avignon on Wednesday, said action was urgently needed because about 300 young French Muslims are reported to have left their region to fight alongside jihadist forces in Syria.
 
Their meeting, which debated practical options such as surveillance cameras in mosques to spot jihadi recruiters and centrally written sermons for Friday prayers, will be followed by further sessions in other regions in the coming months.
 
Muslim chaplains in prisons, a fertile ground for recruiting young men to Islamist radicalism, met in Paris last weekend to urge the state to expand their ranks by helping train them and then paying them basic salaries for working with prisoners.
 
“There are young men in my neighborhood leaving for Syria. We need a joint effort to fight against that,” Farid Darrouf, an imam from Montpellier, told French radio in Avignon.
 
“We've had 300 people leave for Syria from PACA,” said Carpentras imam Khalid Belkhadir, referring to the Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur region in southeastern France. “That really set the alarm bells ringing for us.”
 
The flow of European Muslim radicals to Syria and the May 24 killing of four people at the Brussels Jewish Museum, presumably by a 29-year-old French Muslim who did five stints in French jails before fighting in Syria, has alarmed European officials.
 
British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere both warned this week against the danger presented by European jihadists who return home from fighting in Syria.
 
France's five million Muslims, the largest Islamic minority in Europe, are overwhelmingly law-abiding citizens opposed to radicalism. But their community is divided and nationwide  initiatives like the imams' meetings are rare.
 
Joint Plan of Action
 
“Muslims must act to stop this disfiguration of the image of Islam and Muslims,” said Mohammed Moussaoui, former head of France's national Muslim council and leader of the French Mosques Union group, which sponsored the Avignon meeting.
 
Noting that more than a million French Muslims attended Friday prayers, he suggested more vigorous preaching against  radicalism.

“On certain issues, why not have just one joint sermon, so the message comes across loud and clear?” he asked.
 
Moussaoui's group, part of the large network of Moroccan-backed mosques in France, plans five more meetings of imams in other regions to work out a plan of action in the autumn.
 
Justice Minister Christiane Taubira said last week that prison police had identified 90 inmates as potential radical Islamists among thousands of Muslims behind bars in France.
 
The 169 Islamic prison chaplains complain they cannot keep up with demand from Muslim prisoners, who often make up half or more of all inmates, while there are many more Catholic and Protestant chaplains for far fewer Christians seeking guidance.
 
They also say churches supplement the meager sums their clerics earn from the prisons, while Muslims have no such institutions to help them and cannot live on the low pay.
 
Lacking trained chaplains to discuss their religious questions, some young Muslim inmates are easy prey for recruiters preaching radical politics with their Islam.
 
“Our presence in prisons is useful,” they said in a statement after their weekend meeting. “It's time that our conditions of work are guaranteed ... [with] no differences between the chaplaincies.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: exdemocrat
June 19, 2014 9:41 PM
if they want to go and fight along side of jihadists,by all means,let them...and do NOT let them back in

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid