PARIS (JTA) — A group of Islamic extremists burst into a French mosque’s prayer service and threatened the presiding imam, known for his efforts to improve Muslim-Jewish ties.
“We are going to liquidate him, this imam of the Jews,” said some of the about 80 people who interrupted Monday’s services in Hassen Chalghoumi’s mosque north of Paris, in Drancy, according to Chalghoumi’s adviser and French news reports. There were about 200 worshipers in the mosque at the time.
The intruders also called Chalghoumi a "heathen" and "renegade."
Chalghoumi has consistently spoken against Islamic extremism, and has worked actively with Muslim youth and Jewish leaders around France to condemn anti-Semitism.
In 2006, his home was vandalized following his public request that all Muslims respect the memory of the thousands of Jews sent to Nazi death camps from Drancy.
“They wanted to kill me,” said Chalghoumi on Radio Orient on Tuesday, adding that he would continue to work to improve Muslim-Jewish relations in France, and to speak out against extremism, because “it is our future that is at stake.”
Chalghoumi confirmed he would make an official complaint against the unidentified intruders.
France’s Jewish community leaders on Tuesday expressed their solidarity and support for Chalghoumi.
“We consider these events serious and worrisome,” said Sammy Ghozlan in a statement for the CCJ Jewish community organization based in the Paris region.
“Since the arrival of the imam from Drancy, a real harmony has reigned between the Jewish and Muslim communities in the department,” added the statement.