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Face veil is un-Islamic, says French imam

Veil ban triggered Qaeda threats: Imam

Muslim French preacher Hassan Chalghoumi stressed that the face veil is not required in Islam and supported the ban imposed by the French government while admitting it triggered several al-Qaeda threats.

Hassan Chalghoumi, the imam of Drancy mosque near Paris, said that he and several other Muslim imams living in France support the ban imposed by the French government on wearing the face veil, or the niqab, in public since it is not an Islamic obligation and since wearing it harms Muslim women, according to him.

“In France, Muslim women who wear the niqab raise suspicion and are subjected to more discriminatory practices,” he told Al Arabiya’s Senaat al-Mawt (Death Industry) Friday from Paris.

The face veil, Chalghoumi explained, could be used for security violations and that is why it tarnishes the image of women wearing it and exposes them to trouble.

Despite his support of the ban on the niqab in France, Chalghoumi admitted that terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda have taken advantage of this ban to threaten several European countries, on top of which is France.

“Unfortunately, Muslim communities in Europe are the first to pay the price of these threats.”

Muslims in France, Chalghoumi added, are facing a very difficult challenge as they try to fight extremism and promote a moderate version of Islam.

“We, around 80 mosque imams from Paris and its outskirts, hold monthly meetings to discuss the means of facing extremist ideologies and propagating the tolerant principles of Islam which help Muslim communities to integrate in European countries.”

In France, Muslim women who wear the niqab arouse suspicion and are subjected to more discriminatory practices

Muslim French preacher Hassan Chalghoumi

Marginal issue

Chalghoumi also criticized members of Muslim communities for focusing on insignificant issues like the ban of the face veil while they should instead focus on other more important issues.

“Instead of the niqab, Muslims in France should pay attention to issues that threaten their identity like the fact that the young generations in France and Europe in general do not speak Arabic and do not have enough knowledge of Islam.”

This ignorance of Islam and the Arabic language, Chalghoumi explained, makes it easier for extremists to affect youths and promote their violent approaches.

“They adopt those extremist ideas thinking this is part of Islam although they have nothing to do with it.”

The latest episode of Al Arabiya’s Death Industry focused on the Muslim community in Europe, which is estimated at seven million, and the degree with which its members were affected by al-Qaeda threats against France and other European countries.

(Translated from the Arabic by Sonia Farid)

Instead of the niqab, Muslims in France should pay attention to issues that threaten their identity

Muslim French preacher Hassan Chalghoumi