Nearly 100 French imams visited the Drancy Holocaust memorial near Paris on Monday in an effort to show that Islam is a tolerant religion. The Muslim leaders, who traveled from all over France, gathered at the site of the former detention camp where around 65,000 Jews were held before being deported to extermination camps, mainly to Auschwitz, during World War II.
The event, the first of its kind since the memorial opened last September, was also attended by the president of the French Jewish umbrella organization CRIF, Richard Prasquier, and by French Interior Minister Manuel Valls.
Valls said the imams’ presence made for “a very strong image that speaks better than words and speeches... The world needs peace and harmony, people who engage in dialog and listen." Hassen Chalghoumi, the imam of Drancy and a veteran activist for dialog between Muslims and Jews in France and against anti-Semitism, hosted the imams.
Some of the imams present also traveled to Israel last year to pray at the tomb of the Jewish children gunned down in Toulouse last March by the Islamist Mohamed Merah.