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French Muslims blast anti-Semitism letter as attack on Islam

A French manifesto calling for certain passages of the Koran to be removed on the grounds of rising anti-Semitism sparks anger Monday from Muslims who say their religion is being unfairly “put on trial.”

The open letter published Sunday in the Parisien newspaper blamed “Islamist radicalization” for what it said was “quiet ethnic purging” in the Paris region, with abuse forcing Jewish families to move out.

After a series of high-profile attacks on Jews, Muslim leaders contacted by AFP acknowledge that anti-Semitism is a problem in France.

But they charge that the nearly 300 signatories, who included ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy and former prime minister Manuel Valls, are blaming a whole religion for the actions of an extremist minority.

“The only thing we can agree on is that we must all unite against anti-Semitism,” says Ahmet Ogras, head of the French Council of the Muslim Faith umbrella group.

Dalil Boubakeur, rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, says the manifesto “subjected French Muslims and French Islam to an unbelievable and unfair trial.

“”It creates a clear risk of pitching religious communities against one another,” he says in a statement.

The manifesto calls for verses of the Koran calling for the “murder and punishment of Jews, Christians and disbelievers” to be removed on the grounds that they are “obsolete.

But Tareq Oubrou, imam of the Grand Mosque of the southern city of the Bordeaux, points out that Islam was not the only religion whose ancient holy texts contain anachronistic passages.

“Any number of holy texts are violent, even the Gospel,” Oubrou says, adding that the signatories, who also included celebrities like actor Gerard Depardieu, had misinterpreted the Koran.

AFP

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