PARIS—A French imam said on Monday that the history teacher beheaded for showing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in class was a martyr for freedom of speech, and he called on mosques in France to pray for the teacher on Friday.
Hassen Chalghoumi, imam of the Paris suburb of Drancy’s mosque, warned against Islamist extremists and called on Muslim parents not to foster a hatred of France.
Laying flowers outside the Conflans-Sainte-Honorine suburb school where the teacher was killed by an 18-year-old suspected Islamist of Chechen origin, Chalghoumi, accompanied by other Muslim leaders, told reporters it was time for the Muslim community to wake up to the dangers of Islamist extremism.
“(The teacher) is a martyr for freedom of expression, and a wise man who has taught tolerance, civilisation and respect for others,” said Chalghoumi, who as president of the Imams of France Conference has regularly called for interfaith tolerance.
He said Muslim authorities should see the beheading as a call for action.
“Rectors of mosques, imams, parents, civil society groups, wake up, your future is at stake,” he said.
He said Islamist extremists in France are well organised and know how to use the legal system and how far they can go.
“We need to end the victimisation discourse. We all have rights in France, like everyone else. Parents should tell their children about the good that exists in this republic,” he said.
A divisive figure in French <a href="https://www.theepochtimes.com/<a href=https://www.theepochtimes.com/french-imam-says-beheaded-teacher-is-martyr-for-freedom-of-speech_3545295.html>Read More – Source</a></p>_
Queen Elizabeth and Duke of Edinburgh receive Covid-19 vaccine
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh have received their Covid-19 vaccinations, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said Saturday.
Dozens killed in suspected jihadist attack in Niger
Dozens of people were killed in an attack in Niger on Saturday, in a suspected jihadist attack.
The attack took place around 12:00 CET in the Tchomo-Bangou village in Tillabéri, a western region bordering Mali.
“The assailants surrounded the village and killed up to 50 people,” a local radio journalist said anonymously. “The wounded have been evacuated to the hospital in Ouallam.”
It came on the day provisional results for the first round of the presidential election, held on December 27, were released.
Mohamed Bazoum, the candidate for the ruling Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) and a former interior minister, is in the lead with 39.3 per cent of the votes. Bazoum has vowed to strengthen the country’s fight against Islamist groups.
The second round of the election is to be held on February 21.
Niger has been a target for jihadist attacks for years, particularly in the western and southeastern parts of the country.
On December 21, six days before the presidential poll, seven soldiers were killed in Tillabéri. In May 2020, twenty people, including children, were also killed in two of the region’s villages.
Niger votes in presidential and legislative elections
People in Niger began voting in the country’s presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday.
Mohamed Bazoum, the right-hand man of outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou is the favourite to win.
The sixty-year-old former interior minister is aiming for outright victory in the first round — something that no candidate has done before.
He’s focussing on security and education.
Over 7 million people are eligible to vote. But some voters, like Gambina Moumouni, simply want a president they can trust.
“We pray to Allah to choose us the president who has the most mercy for the people, a president who will not betray the country and who will not betray the trust of the people, that is our wish. It is also our wish that Allah may help to make the poor, the peasants, the (cattle) breeders happy.
Thirty candidates are standing including two former presidents and two former prime ministers, but according to seasoned observers in the region, the poll is arousing little enthusiasm among the population.
Niger is the world’s poorest according to the UN’s Human Development Index and also one of those hardest hit by climate change.
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