France would not be France without the Arab and Muslim contribution

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France would not be France without the Arab and Muslim contribution

As France is once again struck by terrorism and targeted by an online hate campaign launched by those who claim that the country is Islamophobic, it is necessary to recall certain facts.

France has the greatest respect for Islam, a religion with which it has deep historical and cultural ties. France does not and will never confuse Islam and terrorism. On the one hand, we must all fight together to defeat terrorism in all its forms. On the other hand, we must fight against extremist tendencies and radical ideologies. It is a battle that we must wage alongside Muslims, who are the first victims of terrorism.

Islam is the second religion in France. As the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, reaffirmed, the millions of Muslims in France rightly belong to our national community. This should never be questioned. Muslims in France benefit, within the framework of the free exercise of their religion, from a protective framework that we impose in a spirit of equality between all religious confessions.

Here are the facts. In France today, there are 3,000 places of worship for Muslims, state television broadcasts a program on Islam every week as part of an evening devoted to religions and there are Muslim chaplains in the area. army and in hospitals.

The public authorities maintain a close dialogue with representatives of all religions, including Muslim organizations, which regularly reiterate the importance for all citizens to respect the laws of the Republic, whatever their religion. This is what constitutes the foundation of the French nation.

We would not be what we are today without the immense contribution of artists, intellectuals and creators of the Arab and Muslim world to our cultural heritage, who also contribute to the universal French crucible.

Ludovic Pouille

With this in mind, we want imams who preach in France to be trained in France. In addition to religious studies, fluency in French and knowledge of the fundamental principles of the Republic should be part of this training.

As for foreign funding, we want it to be transparent in order to ensure that it is not the engine of a radical ideology or divisions within French society.

Freedom, equality and fraternity are universal values. They are not the property of a state; it is up to each of us to protect and promote them. We must promote dialogue to strengthen mutual respect.

These are the principles on which the democratic and secular model of our republic is based. By not pitting communities against each other, the French model is intended to be neutral and impartial and this is how it protects them all. France has enshrined equality in its motto and strives to ensure that everyone’s differences are respected.

We are and will remain vigilant against any hate speech or racism. While there may sometimes be tensions, our duty is to ease them. Discrimination and hate speech go against our values. Our duty is to sanction them and that is what we are doing.

Beyond the protective legal framework, I would like to recall certain facts that I also consider to be fundamental.

France would not be France without Muslims. The cultural history of France would not have been the same without this secular interaction with the Orient, which has always fascinated and inspired our authors, painters, scientists and architects.

We would not be what we are today without the immense contribution of artists, intellectuals and creators of the Arab and Muslim world to our cultural heritage, who also contribute to the universal French crucible.

As Ambassador of France in Saudi Arabia, I will continue to strongly promote intercultural dialogue between our two societies, between young people from the two countries in particular, in an environment characterized by mutual respect and a constant desire to understand each other because it is t is the responsibility of each of us to follow the path of dialogue and tolerance.

Ludovic Pouille is the French ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Twitter: @ludovic_pouille

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the editors of this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Arab News

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