Paris, 23 October 2022
The Simon Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Dr Shimon Samuels – together with its Dean and Founder CEO, Rabbi Marvin Hier, and Associate Dean, Director for Global Social Action, Rabbi Abraham Cooper – expressed solidarity with the Mosque of Drancy and its Imam, Hassen Chalghoumi, on behalf of the Centre’s French Friends and its worldwide membership.
Samuels with Chalghoumi at Paris screening of “It is No Dream: the Life of Theodor Herzl”
(photo Alain Azria).
This Friday, a 42-year-old homeless Algerian national entered the Mosque carrying a 30 cm butcher knife, admittedly intending “to accomplish a carnage” on the day of prayer.
The security service was alerted by a witness and isolated the Islamist, while the police promptly intervened. At the moment of his arrest, the man was reciting Quranic verses and allegedly crying out “Allahu Akbar”. He was apparently under an official Obligation to Leave French Territory.
The Interior Ministry laments that an average of only 10% of those to be extradited have effectively been expelled in the past four years, due to appeals, medical conditions and other means to escape administrative or police control, that can result in these individuals joining criminal or terrorist groups.
Imam Chalghoumi was kept safe by his security detail. He is not new to threats and has taken very seriously the geographical and symbolic importance of his Mosque in Drancy, the railway departure point for over 70,000 Jews from France to Auschwitz and other death camps.
At a commemoration in 2006, after recalling the horrors of the Shoah against “our cousins the Jews,” his home was vandalized. Notwithstanding the frequent expressions of hate against him from Islamist Imams and their followers, each year he brings fellow Imams to commemorate the Holocaust with their Jewish “cousins”.
Samuels commented, “He has a clear idea of the challenges he faces and maintains a close relationship with the French Jewish community, denouncing antisemitism and BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) targeting Israel. He fosters dialogue and does not shy from exposing incitement by extremists.”
“We know that you have often received death threats, but this time the suspect wanted to accomplish a carnage among the Mosque’s faithful... Hassen, we in the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, as well as the Jewish community and your own flock, need you and wish you health and safety,” concluded Samuels.
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