In a recent TV interview, French-Tunisian Imam Hassan Chalghoumi said that "deterrence is essential" in order to prevent French Muslims from joining the fighting in Syria. "What I fear most is that 10-15 of these people will return, and will carry out terrorist bombings," said Chalghoumi, Imam of the Drancy Mosque, Paris, in the September 26 Al-Arabiya TV interview.
Following are excerpts:
Hassan Chalgoumi: Some 1,000 young [French] men and women went to Syria, of whom 20% are new converts to Islam. I don't believe that they have come to know the merciful and Sufi spirit of Islam. Rather, they opted for the vengeful and criminal.
Host: What is the reason for the general state of alarm in Europe? They believe that when these Jihadists return, they will perpetrate terrorist attacks in European countries. Should we really expect such a thing?
Hassan Chalgoumi: Unfortunately, these people did not go to Syria as tourists. They did not go there to hike in the mountains, or to learn some Islamic jurisprudence. They went there in order to bear arms. I don't exactly know who their current enemy is - Bashar Al-Assad and his soldiers, Hizbullah, or whoever... Who can guarantee that upon their return, France will not become their enemy?
20-30% of these people have only one nationality. They are French-born. They are Christians or whatever who converted to Islam. Therefore, deterrence is essential. Saudi Arabia, for example, has deterrence in the form of 15 years in prison. Other Arab countries deter people from going there for non-peaceful purposes. The parents also bear responsibility. What I fear most is that 10-15 of these people will return, and will carry out terrorist bombings.