Several thousand people are expected on Sunday, November 12, to take part in a march against anti-Semitism, launched at the initiative of the presidents of the National Assembly and the Senate. While part of the political class is divided on the opportunity to participate, certain groups not wishing to demonstrate alongside elected representatives of the National Rally, the representatives of religions in France do not present a completely united front either. made united.
Bishops and Protestant leaders
On the Catholic side, several leaders have already announced their presence, like Father Hugues de Woillemont, secretary general of the Conference of Bishops of France, or Mgr Matthieu Rougé, bishop of Nanterre and former chaplain to parliamentarians.
The diocese of Paris will be represented by Mgr Philippe Marsset, auxiliary bishop, and by Father Thierry Vernet, archbishop’s delegate for relations with Judaism. Father Christophe Le Sourt, national director for relations with Judaism for the episcopate, will also be present.
Protestant leaders will also be present, notably the president of the Protestant Federation of France, Christian Krieger, invited by the cabinet of Yaël Braun-Pivet. “Even without being invited, I would have gone,” he explained to AFP. The National Council of Evangelicals of France (CNEF) invited in a press release to join the march, in which its president Erwan Cloarec will participate.
“Not a word about Islamophobia”
Crack in this common front of religions against anti-Semitism, the leaders of the Muslim faith, with a few exceptions, do not wish to associate themselves with the demonstration. While reaffirming its commitment against anti-Semitism – “a poison and a decline of the spirit that must be fought tirelessly” –, the French Council of Muslim Worship (CFCM) affirms that this march, “which has the exclusive objective of denouncing anti-Semitism without a word on Islamophobia, is unfortunately not likely to bring people together. It can also be interpreted by Islamophobes as a sign of impunity.”
Those responsible for the Grand Mosque of Paris invoke the same arguments to justify their absence from this demonstration: “According to the instructions of the rector of the Paris mosque, we are not invited to come and participate in this march. Quite simply because it does not have a more global connotation. It is limited to simply defending the interests of one community to the detriment of others. detailed Abdelali Mamoun, imam of the Grand Mosque of Paris on Franceinfo.
“Our fellow Jews are in fear”
Several Muslim religious figures will, however, be present at these marches against anti-Semitism. For Tareq Oubrou, grand imam of Bordeaux, who will go with other imams from the region to an event organized in his city by Licra, Sunday November 12, it is even “a moral and civic imperative in the face of the increase in anti-Semitic acts, which plunge our fellow Jewish citizens into fear and panic.” He calls his co-religionists to “do not mix genres, (not) enter into victimhood escalation or import the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”In France.
Hassen Chalghoumi, imam of Drancy, widely criticized within the Muslim community, announced that he will participate in the march in Paris. “On Sunday, we will all be Jews! “, did he declare.
“Fear of instrumentalization”
For a Catholic leader familiar with these issues, the absence of Muslim leaders could be explained by “the fear of the political exploitation of the march and the fear that their participation could be assimilated to a form of support for the State of Israel which is currently bombing Gaza”. “This absence will in any case leave traces”, deplores a leader of the Jewish community in France.
The Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, counted, one month after the outbreak of the war between Israel and Hamas, 1,159 anti-Semitic acts in France, triple the figures for the whole of 2022. Since October 7, the export of religious rhetoric about the conflict between Israel and Hamas has given rise to numerous hostile acts against Jews in Europe and around the world.