memri
October 21, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 8983

MEMRI Reports In 2012 Exposed Islamist Incitement By Abdelhakim Sefrioui And His Organization, The Pro-Hamas Sheikh Yassin Collective, Against France And French Authorities; This Week, Authorities Arrested Him And Dismantled The Organization In Connection With French Teacher's Beheading

October 21, 2020
Special Dispatch No. 8983

On October 16, 2020, Samuel Paty, a French history teacher, was beheaded by an 18-year-old Islamist Chechen in the Paris suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine.

Seven people are appearing before an anti-terrorism judge in the murder case, which began today, October 21. One of them is Islamist activist Abdelhakim Sefrioui, president of the pro-Hamas Sheikh Yassin Collective and a member of the Council of Imams of France, an association of Islamist preachers.[1]

Yesterday, October 20, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that the Sheikh Yassin Collective would be dissolved because it is "directly implicated" in the attack on Paty.[2]  

A week before the beheading of Paty, on October 8, Sefrioui met with the principal of Paty's school to protest against the teacher's use of a Charlie Hebdo cartoon in his freedom of expression class. He asked that Paty be suspended immediately, but realized that nothing would be done, and called for action.[3]


Still image of Sefrioui from a video in which he spoke about his meeeting with the school's principal.

It should be noted that MEMRI published research in 2012 on the Sheikh Yassin Collective and on Sefrioui's activism and hate speech.[4]

Below are excerpts of a MEMRI report on Sefrioui and the Sheikh Yassin Collective that he heads. The report was published September 13, 2012 and titled "The Sheikh Yassin Collective, Headed By Abdelhakim Sefrioui."

"The Sheikh Yassin Collective, Headed By Abdelhakim Sefrioui" – Published September 13, 2012

The Sheikh Yassin Collective (Collectif Cheikh Yassine, CCY) – named after the founder and religious leader of Hamas who was killed by Israel in 2004 – is a French non-profit association, with an extremist Islamist agenda. Its president is Abdelhakim Sefrioui, an Islamist activist active in the Paris area since the late 1980s and member of the Council of Imams of France. The CCY brings together a few dozen people who can be found standing around Sefrioui at demonstrations. At their gatherings, members speak in French, often using Arabic religious expressions. Members of the group and its supporters are usually bearded, and the women are veiled.

The CCY Website

The CCY has a website in French, which sometimes publishes reports in Arabic.[5] The site does not provide information on the objectives of the association, the composition of its office, its address, nor its mode of operation and its funding. The site seems to be an information trove for the Collective's activists, providing details on mobilization, announcing meeting points in the Paris area, and sharing videos posted on YouTube and Dailymotion. The site also features a photo library with photos of the most recent protests, as well as a video library and a series of articles hostile to the West and favorable to extremist Islamist groups.

The group's main activity is organizing marches, demonstrations, and rallies in the Paris region, with the aim primarily of disrupting public order and winning the sympathy of Muslims in France. The speeches are generally delivered by Abdelhakim Sefrioui and a veiled woman often present at his side, as evidenced by the video recordings posted on the group's site and posted online.

The CCY's Objectives: Defending Extremist Islamist Interests In France, The Fight Against Israel, Jewish Organizations, And Moderate Muslims In France

The group's action focuses on the defense of extremist Islamist interests in France, and on the fight against Israel, Jewish organizations and moderate Muslim figures in France.

Defending Extremist Islamist Interests In France; "Obeying [The French Authorities] Is Unbelief - Because Obedience Is Due To Allah Alone"

The CCY supports extremist Islamist ideas. For example, CCY campaigned against the law banning the full veil, and supported women who challenged it in the name of freedom of conscience.

The CCY has challenged the CFCM, the French government-endorsed umbrella organization for the practice of the Muslim faith, which it considers an instrument of the French government. Sefroui strongly criticizes the notion of a "French Islam," the concept promoted by Nicolas Sarkozy when he was Minister of the Interior. At a February 17 rally held in front of the Pontoise mosque, Sefrioui called the CFCM "a tool for the domestication of Muslims," adding:  "The French authorities want to create a Church of Islam, an Islam of France – when there is only one Islam, the religion of Allah, blessed be He." Calling CFCM leaders agents of the French government and idolators, he shouted in Arabic: "Obeying [the French authorities] is unbelief, because obedience is due to Allah alone."

The CCY's Fight Against Israel, Jewish Organizations, And Moderate Muslim Figures In France

As its name suggests, the CCY stands in solidarity with Hamas, an organization designated terrorist by the U.S. and the EU and banned by the international community and the Arab League, and supports Hamas figures.

The CCY and Sefioui regularly attack CRIF, the French Jewish umbrella organization, as well as what it calls "Zionist organizations" and their "lackeys" in France. However, their discourse in French is different than their discourse in Arabic. In French, they refer to human rights and to "the spirit of freedom which is above all," but in Arabic it references traditional Islamic texts, Allah, and Muhammad.

In 2006, Sefrioui was part of the presidential campaign of the antisemitic and Holocaust denying comedian Dieudonné,[6] in which far-right activists and extremist Islamists rubbed shoulders, united under the banner of Holocaust denial. Sefrioui publicly defended the right to deny the Holocaust.

At a Paris rally in February 2012, Sefrioui, in a supplication to Allah, said: "Oh Allah, exterminate the Zionists! Oh Allah, do not let those who support the Zionists rest! Oh Allah, exterminate them [all]!"

In keeping with Hamas rhetoric, Sefrioui asserts that the occupation of Palestine is not confined to the 1967 borders alone, but that all "historic Palestine" and must be liberated. A video posted on the site features Palestinian songs with violent lyrics in the background.

The CCY: Against Moderate Imams And French Muslim Intellectuals Promoting An Open And Cooperative Islam

In February 2010, a crowd of CCY activists surrounded the Drancy mosque and forced its imam, Hassen Chalghoumi, to flee under threat,[7] as they chanted "By soul, by blood, we sacrifice ourselves for you, oh Al-Aqsa." It claimed Chalghoumi had "betrayed Islam" by supporting the peace process in the Middle East and by advocating dialogue with Israel and the Jewish world. CCY activists attend official events in order to disrupt them, and incite against leaders of the Muslim community in France.

Organizing Illegal Gatherings, Inciting Racist Hatred And Violence

The CCY organizes marches, demonstrations and rallies, sometimes accompanied by calls to prayer in public spaces, without authorization. At one, in front of the French Foreign Ministry on February 20, 2012, Sefrioui openly defied the French authorities: "You refused to allow us to assemble, and here we are!... We fear only Allah." In other protests as well, Sefrioui and members of his small group confronted law enforcement.

Inciting Racial Hatred And Violence

CCY members often incite hatred, in particular for Jews and moderate figures in the Muslim community of France. At a February 2012 rally in support of Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan, at the Place Saint-Michel in Paris, a veiled woman who often accompanies Sefrioui praised Hamas terrorists against the backdrop of a crowd of young people shouting "Khaybar Khaybar, oh Jews" – a reference to the Battle of Khaybar in 628, in which Muhammad's forces exterminated an entire Jewish tribe – and songs glorifying Hamas and calling for terror attacks, with lyrics including "Detonate [the explosive] along with the bus passengers!"

Sefrioui Calls On Muslims To Rebel Against The Official Authorities Of The Muslim Community In France, Accused Of Treason And Subordination To The Government

At a February 2012 rally in Paris Sefrioui expressed his contempt for the French police and called on Muslims to rebel against the official authorities of the French Muslim community, whom he accused of treason.[8]

 

[1] Le Monde, October 20, 2020.

[2] Euronews.com/2020/10/20/france-beheading-macron-promises-crackdown-on-radical-islam-after-murder-of-teacher-samuel, October 21, 2020.

[3] Video available upon request.

[5] Collectifcheikhyassine.com. The website is now offline; the CCY now operates a new website, Soutien-palestine.blogspot.com, and a Facebook page, Facebook.com/Collectif-Cheikh-Yassine-197992593547591.

[6] See, for example, MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1245, The 'Quenelle+' Facebook Page - Popular Among Followers Of Antisemitic French Comedian Dieudonné, May 4, 2016. 

[7] Videos available upon request.

[8] Le Collectif du Cheikh Yassine, September 13, 2012.

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