Macron, the Sheikh of al-Azhar, and the Ottoman Grandson

The views expressed in this op-ed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of SyriacPress.

By Matti Kallo writer and journalist

“Islam is in crisis all over the world and France must confront Islamic isolationism which seeks to establish a parallel order and deny the French Republic.” These are the words of French President Emmanuel Macron. During a visit to the poor Paris suburb Les Mureaux he added, “We need to oppose Islamic separatism… the problem is ideology that claims that its laws must be superior to the laws of the Republic.”

The French president’s speech caused a storm of anger, convulsions, irritation, grumbling, and increased palpitations! Before we turn to those haunted by restlessness, I want to ask a simple question; is it not the right of the president of any country in the world to preserve his country and stability, and keep his people far away from terrorism and extreme religious thinking, i.e. to live in peace and security! I believe that President Emmanuel Macron has every right to choose the way he sees fit for the stability of France and preserve France’s secularism and democracy. No one can deny that France is considered one of the best countries when it comes to respecting human rights; whether you are a French-born citizen or an immigrant. Both have the same rights and obligations.

One of the first distinguished gentlemen to be upset and angry about Macron’s statements was the grandson of the Ottomans, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He responded in a way that was inappropriate, except the way of his ancestors, when he responded to Macron describing his statements “overstepping” and “impertinent”. The question is whether Macron really needs permission from Erdogan or help in the way how to address his people!? Will it be Erdogan who protects the French from the terrorist attacks by Islamist extremists which target France from time to time? Everyone knows that Erdogan has turned Turkey into a hotbed for all kinds of terrorist groups and ideas.

More than five million Muslims live in France, including three million of whom hold French citizenship. They enjoy all the rights of French citizenship. And among them are ministers such as Yamana Zahra Belaidi, Hamlawi Makashera, Kader Arif, Jeanette Bougrab, many other government officials, and state senators. In France, there are many mosques and dozens of gyms and theaters are turned into prayer mosques on Fridays. And there are more than 2.000 imams and many of them freely spread extremist speech against the French people in their Friday sermons.

For secular France where the rights of the French and immigrants are equal, Erdogan upbraids the French president a “lack of manners”. Then what do we call Erdogan when he turns a world-historic church into a mosque? Christians in Turkey are not immigrants or refugees but owners of the land! And why have the church mosaics on the walls been blacked out? What then should we call Erdogan when hundreds of churches are turned into mosques or closed? How should we describe Erdogan when the Turkish government forces the leaders of 18 Jewish and Christian religious organizations and churches to sign a declaration that they enjoy religious freedom!? Is that not “lack of manners” and conscience!?

The other prominent person outraged by the French president’s statements was the Great Imam of al-Azhar Ahmed El-Tayyeb, Egypt’s foremost religious authority. He strongly condemned and vigorously attacked Macron’s remarks. He described them as irresponsible and racist statements that would inflame the feelings of two billion Muslims.

It seems that Macron’s statements really angered the feelings of the Sheikh. But what about the more than 100 Coptic churches in Minya, Asyut, Fayoum, Giza, Suez, Sinai, al-Aqsar, Sohag, Beni Suef, and other places that were attacked, burned, and destroyed by terrorists; what about the Coptic shops and property which were targeted by Islamist extremists, and the kidnapping of Coptic women? This did not inflame the feelings of Sheikh El-Tayyeb!? Or what about when the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) occupied cities and rural areas, destroyed infrastructure and homes, slaughtered men, women, and children like sheep with the sword of extremism, massacred hundreds of Iraqi’s, and displaced hundreds of thousands in the name of Islam; This did not fuel the feelings of Sheikh Tayeb!? When ISIL blew up churches, mosques, and archaeological sites; Did this not hurt the feelings of the good Sheikh!?

He rejected ISIS’s atonement because, “In order to expiate a person, he must have left the faith and have denied the faith in angels.” He rejected for ISIS to atone because they are people of Qibla and utter the words of Shahada!! In one text El-Tayyeb even said, “I cannot atone for ISIS because they believe in God”, in other words, the crimes committed by these terrorists do not deviate from true faith. We do not know which faith the good Sheikh believes in, but this confirms that the faith of ISIS militants is of the same kind as the Good Sheikh!!

The third distinguished person who got incredibly angry was Secretary General of the International Union of Muslim Scholars Ali Mohieddin Al-Qaradaghi – one of Youssef al-Qaradawi’s disciples in Qatar. He addressed Macron in an even more angry public response than Recep Tayyip Erdogan or Sheikh El-Tayyeb did. He said to Macron, “You are the one in crisis, a crisis of moral, humanitarian, and political setback.” My question to all three “distinguished gentlemen” is; did you not hear about how Saudi Arabia is executing those who bring drugs and Bibles into the land! And you consider the Bible the word of God!

There is a lot in our arsenal about religious extremism, but I would like to conclude and say to these three gentlemen and all others who broke their teeth to attack secular France, that in France everyone is equal, that there is no article in its constitution about doctrine, sectarianism, or nationalism, but there is about citizenship and loyalty to the homeland. My last question is what does this “trio” say about Macron having allocated EUR 10 million to the Foundation for Islam in France?

In conclusion, we want to say to these three that France will remain secular, that the world is on its way to a secular system, away from terrorism in all its forms and extremes!

Matti Kallo is a writer and journalist originally from the Syriac town of Bartella, Nineveh Plain in Iraq. Since 1995 he lives in Melbourne, Australia

Disclaimer: translated from the original Arabic. Here