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France

French Muslim groups condemn Charlie Hebdo killings, mosques attacked

media A police investigator inspects the scene after an attack on a kebab restaurant near el Houda mosque in Villefrance-Sur-Saône Reuters/Emmanuel Foudrot

France’s main Muslim organisations have called on imams to condemn Wednesday’s attack on Charlie Hebdo. Several attacks on Islamic places of worship were reported after the murder of 12 at the satirical paper’s offices.

Imams should condemn “violence and terrorism wherever they come from” during Friday prayers, a statement by France’s major Muslim groupings declared on Thursday after a meeting in Paris’s main mosque.

The two largest umbrella groups, the mainstream CFCM and the Muslim-Brother-aligned UOIF, were joined by several other organisations in the joint declaration.

It called on Muslims to pay tribute to the victims of Wednesday's attack after Friday prayers and to join the rally called by the country’s major political parties this weekend to “confirm their wish to live together and peace and respect of the values of the republic”.

CFCM leader and Paris mosque rector Dalil Boubakeur called on the government and the universities to help provide “secular training for imams” to limit the influence of “self-proclaimed imams”.

Several attacks on Muslim places of worship were reported on Thursday, although nobody was injured in any of them:

  • Training grenades were thrown onto the premises of a mosque in Le Mans in western France;
  • Shots were fired at a prayer room in Port-la-Nouvelle in the south;
  • A criminal explosion went off at a kebab shop near a mosque in Villefranche-sur-Saône near Lyon;
  • A man was arrested tagging “Death to the Arabs” on a mosque in Poitiers in the west.

Several right-wing politicians declared that France was “at war” with Islamic fundamentalism on Thursday.

Marine Le Pen of the far-right Front National told France 2 television that “the Islamists have declared war on France” and called for a referendum on the death penalty.

In a video on her party’s website she called for an end to “denial and hypocrisy” and for “freedom of speech in the face of Islamic fundamentalism”.

The general secretary of the mainstream right UMP, Laurent Wauquiez, declared that France is “at war” with “Islamic fundamentalism”.

“There are people who have decided to destroy freedom of expression, destroy democratic society and to struggle against Western civilisation,” he told the Jewish radio station RCJ.

Bordeaux mayor and aspiring presidential candidate Alain Juppé also talked of a war for freedom, while insisting that “these barbarians” have no right to claim they act in the name of any religion.
 

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