Muhammad mandated that a woman cover everything but her face and hands, not cover her face with a sack, and so a good case can actually be made on the grounds of the Qur’an and Sunnah that the burqa is un-Islamic. Nonetheless, this “liberal” imam has received death threats from other Muslims for backing the French burqa ban. A Why There Aren’t More Islamic Reformers Update: “Liberal imam risks death by backing ban on burkas,” by Gavin Mortimer in the First Post, January 27 (thanks to Twostellas):
Should the burka be banned from French society? It’s a contentious issue, and in some cases a dangerous one, too, as Hassen Chalghoumi discovered this week.
Chalghoumi, at 36 one of the younger and certainly one of the most liberal imams in France, told Le Parisien last week that he supported “a legal ban of the burka, which has no place in France, a country where women have been voting since 1945”.
The imam, whose mosque is in Drancy, a north-eastern suburb of Paris, also criticised those Muslims who advocated the wearing of the burka, saying they “belong to a tiny minority tradition reflecting an ideology that undermines the Muslim religion. The burka is a prison for women, a tool of sexist domination and Islamist indoctrination.”
The Tunisian-born Chalghoumi, who is a naturalised French citizen and proud of it, told the paper: “Having French nationality means wanting to take part in society, at school, at work. But with a bit of cloth over their faces, what can these women share with us? If they want to wear the veil, they can go to a country where it’s the tradition, like Saudi Arabia.”
Chalghoumi’s comments were designed to provoke discussion among the Muslim community in France, but a small minority of radicals considered his pronouncements so insulting that on Monday evening they stormed Chalghoumi’s mosque and threatened to kill him.
He was chairing a meeting of the Conference of Imams, a body established in 2009 to promote better relations between France’s faiths, particularly Jews and Muslims, when a mob of 80 men forced their way into the building. There was a brief scuffle between the two groups, ending in a handful of invaders grabbing the microphone. “They started to cry Allah Akbar and God is great,” recounted Chalghoumi. “Then they insulted me, my mosque, the Jewish community and the [French] Republic. They left after an hour and a half.”
According to a member of the Conference of Imams, the mob condemned Chalghoumi as an apostate and threatened him with “liquidation, this imam of the Jews”.
But far from cowering Chalghoumi into silence, the attack has only strengthened his resolve to confront the extremist element within the French Muslim community. “My voice speaks for the majority [of Muslims],” he said yesterday. “I work for the future of our children and of the Republic in order that Islam is allowed to find its place and Muslims can be respected.”…
As for Chalghoumi, he is now under police protection, as is his mosque, and he is promising to press charges against his aggressors. While he has received support from the Christian and Jewish communities throughout France, the reaction from many of his fellow Muslims has been luke-warm.
Fouad Alaoui, president of the Union des Organisations Islamiques de France (UOIF), said he “wasn’t surprised” at the incident. “We’ve warned him several times to moderate his words because he risks to attract these sort of reactions.”
On the streets of Drancy, support appeared thin on ground for Chalghoumi . “If he wants to condemn the burka, why not, but not in the name of our mosque,” a man called Malik said, adding that the imam’s recent declarations “have shocked us”. Another young Muslim dismissed Chalghoumi as “not an imam but an administrator”….