The Risk-taking Imam

French Imam Hassen Chalghoumi takes an active role in promoting peace and improving relations between Muslims and Jews. “A central figure and founder of the Conference of Imams,” he is currently in Israel with a delegation of 40 educators. His initiatives cause him to be an ‘alternative leader’, especially due to his promotion of inter-religious dialogue in France. This, along with his cooperation with Jewish organizations, has earned him the title, ‘Imam of the Jews.’

His involvement in these activities has not been without conflict or danger, however. In 2006, for example, his home was ransacked after conducting a Holocaust Memorial ceremony at Drancy, site of Nazi deportations. His family lives in Bahrain due to threats on his life from the Islamic State (ISIS). He met with IDF Spokesperson Israeli Brigadier General Rosen Manelis last July in Paris, since then he has received death threats after posting on social media about the meeting

While at the Knesset on Wednesday, he said anti-Semitic attacks have risen 74 percent in France. But he “urged the media to reflect the true face of the populations, which seek co-existence.” MK Eli Avidar observed that the world is a better place because of people like Imam Hassem who is not driven by fear.

Two passages of Scripture come to mind considering this story. Proverbs 16:7, “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies be at peace with him.” Also, in Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God.”

Ultimately, God is the source of peace. However, people like Anwar Sadat in 1979 and Imam Chalghoumi in 2019, take a risk to promote peace with Israel. May there be more who follow in their steps. “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, they shall prosper who love you” (Psalm 122:6).

Source: Jewish; Tazpit News Agency (TPS)