On October 20, 2020, French-Tunisian Imam Hassen Chalghoumi, the President of the Conference of Imams of France, gave an interview to the press, including CNEWS (France), in response to the beheading of French teacher Samuel Paty in a recent terror attack. Imam Chalghoumi strongly denounced Paty's murder, saying that he is a "martyr of freedom" and that the murderer was a criminal terrorist. Saying that Islamism is a disease and a poison, he called on the French government to ban Islamism and to protect France and its Muslims from civil war. Imam Chalghoumi further said that anybody who does not support France's laws and values is a threat to French society. For more about Imam Hassan Chalghoumi, see MEMRI TV clips 6439, 5518, 5204, 5164, 4538, 4241, 3792, 3562, 3561, 2775, and 2572.
MEMRI JTTM reported that following the interview, on October 24, a Telegram bot operated by English-speaking supporters of the Islamic State (ISIS) posted a call for followers to kill Imam Chalghoumi (see MEMRI JTTM report Pro-ISIS Telegram Channel Calls For Murder Of French Muslim Cleric.) The post accused Chalghoumi of defending the publication of cartoons insulting the Prophet Muhammad, and of describing teachers who use these cartoons in their lessons as "heroes." The bot praised the 18-year-old Chechen Muslim who murdered Paty, and addressed Muslims in France, with a call to "execute" Imam Chalghoumi, saying: "Your new target is this old man." The post further described Chalghoumi as "more [filthy] than the French [infidels]."
It should be noted that jihadis have escalated their incitement against France and especially against Muslim scholars who are presented as misguided in recent weeks. An Al-Qaeda-affiliated media group called upon Muslims in France to kill "imams of misguidance" in a statement released in recent days. It should also be noted that the pro-ISIS Telegram bot that issued the call to attack Imam Chalghoumi has since been deleted.
To view the clip of Imam Hassen Chalghoumi's interview on MEMRI TV, click here or below.
"We Are All Samuel Paty; He Is A Martyr Of Freedom; His Assassin Is A Criminal Terrorist... I Apologize To All The Teachers Of France Who Educate Our Children..."
Imam Hassen Chalghoumi: "For an 18-year old boy to decapitate [a person], and to come up with such barbarism... Even in Baghdad and Afghanistan we no longer hear about such things. We have reached a point where we must demand absolute firmness.
"We are all Samuel Paty. He is a martyr of freedom. His assassin is a criminal terrorist who has nothing to do with faith and humanity. He was manipulated by videos and individuals who are also controlled by hatred. I congratulate and stand by the Minister of the Interior. It was a fatwa, yes! Our authorities and legal system need to understand that a fatwa is not just a murder threat or a call to murder. It is also a discourse of hatred, the discourse of the Islamist propaganda.
"I apologize to all the teachers of France who educate our children. I have five children and I say the [teachers]: I am sorry. The Prophet of Islam is similar to the teachings because they also deliver a message. We love you to the point that we trust you with our children. Our children do not decapitate their teachers. Our children do not disrespect their teachers. Muslim children do not commit crimes and do not lack respect for the schools of the [French] republic. Because of what happened, we apologize. This teacher was beheaded in the name of our religion. I apologize to his family.
"I Receive So Many Murder Threats... I Say To Our President [Macron] And Our Government: Go Forth, We Are With You... If The Republic Cannot Protect Us, Who Can? The Turks? The Qataris? The Islamists?"
"We should not be afraid. We must not surrender to fear. We must be strong. I have been warning of this for 15 years and nobody has believed me. I've just left the police station and this is why I was late. I filed a complaint about a murder threat. I receive so many murder threats that I've started to write the complaints myself. Sometimes I ask myself whether there is any progress, and whether my struggle has any merit. I have been fighting this for years and I am not alone. There are many.
"[As President Macron said,] 'Fear will change camps.' The victims must feel safer than those criminals. We must search and find them behind the pseudonyms they use. These are the people who curse us, persecute us, and send us videos. I say to our president and our government: Go forth, we are with you! Protect us! Protect the Muslims of France! Protect us from the danger of civil war. There is a risk of hatred rising. If the republic cannot protect us, who can? The Turks? The Qataris? The Islamists?
"I Want To Take My Children... To Israel[,] To Show The Positive Side... We Have Reached A Point Where We Can No Longer Gather, Make Speeches, Denounce And Condemn [Acts Of Terrorism]"
"I beseech our judges: Rise to the level of responsibility needed in the wake of this crime. He was decapitated in Paris! In Paris, lives are being taken away! This not a war. It is the reality in Paris. A journalist asked me whether this is a wartime government. I said what when a war is declared, a wartime government must be established. I hope this is the last time I bring flowers [for condolences]. We prefer positive things.
"I want to take my children and travel to Israel and everywhere, in order to show the positive side. But we have reached a point where we can no longer gather, make speeches, denounce and condemn [acts of terrorism]. The time has come to say: This is a tragedy. Something is wrong. We must all wake up. When this teacher was killed, our children and their futures were harmed. If fear enters the hearts of our children, what is left for the future? Everybody is afraid.
"At the police station, when I filed a complaint about the death threats, they said to me: 'We sent them a warning.' They threaten to kill us and all they get is a warning?
"Islamism... Is The Poison Of Islam, The Disease Of Islam [Which] Must Be Fought Against"
"I hear the French Council of Muslim Faith saying that the word 'Islamists' must not be used. No. That's not true. We should call a spade a spade. There is such a thing as Islamism: It is the poison of Islam, the disease of Islam. They are the disease of Islam and they must be fought against. Some Muslim countries fight Islamism. Political Islam is banned in some Muslim countries - in Abu Dhabi, in Bahrain, in Egypt, and in many countries. Why don't we ban Islamism? How much longer? 130 of our youth have been killed so far. How much longer? Dozens of policemen have been killed. How much longer? Dozens of journalists. How much longer? When will society wake up?
"For me, nationality means belonging to the values of the Republic. Whoever does not support the laws and values becomes a threat to society. So why should we just let him be? He is no longer French. The people who traveled to join ISIS have chosen ISIS's black flag over the French flag. These people are not French. For me, a French [national] is someone who loves this country and belongs to it. France has given them everything. It has given them equality that does not exist elsewhere.
"France Has Given Everything To My Children... It Is All Thanks To The Schools... I Wish There Were Thousands Of Parents Here With Me, [Crying] Over An Innocent Teacher Who Was Murdered..."
"I say to our youth: Go travel. Go abroad. See other countries and wake up. France loves you and loves your parents. France has given everything to my children. It has given them all the chances to succeed. It is all thanks to the schools. I say as a father: If the fathers and mothers do not wake up... How I wish there were thousands of parents here with me, who would have come to cry over an innocent teacher who was murdered over a caricature. What caricature? We can disagree or leave the class, but it is inconceivable that a person would be decapitated. Preaching hatred is unacceptable."