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

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines 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.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid