Islam must reform, but the effort is not an internal Muslim struggle alone, and should include the rest of the world as well, Sheikh Hassan Chalghoumi said in Washington.
Chalghoumi, the imam of the Drancy Mosque in France, spoke on Tuesday at the annual MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute)-Tom Lantos Archives on Anti-Semitism and Holocaust Denial event on Capitol Hill.
“Islam will also follow the same historical pattern as Christianity and Judaism. However, this battle for reform will not be concluded if the rest of the world treats it as a solely internal battle and sits as an idle observer, watching the catastrophe as it unfolds,” Chalghoumi said.
“For centuries, Christianity and Judaism experienced phases in which their highest human values were marginalized and replaced by hate and violence,” he continued.
“However, later on, each one broke free of these violent trends and became almost entirely human, peaceful and compassionate religions – as we have known them to be for some centuries now.”
Other speakers at the event included Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) and MEMRI president and founder Yigal Carmon.
The sixth annual Lantos Anti-Semitism and Holocaust Denial Archives Commemoration was sponsored by Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner.
The late Tom Lantos, born in Hungary, was a 14-term member of the House of Representatives from California and the only Holocaust survivor to serve in congress.
McCain spoke about the rise of anti-Semitism. “This is a momentous time to be speaking on anti-Semitism. As we look around the world, we encounter upheaval and conflict like never before,” he said.
“While it would be wrong to compare 1933 with today, there is indeed a sense of familiarity here,” said the senator. “After so many years of expressing regrets and pledging ‘Never again,’ could it be that we are witnessing a resurgence of anti-Semitism in our political and economic discourse and that such remarks and actions are becoming increasingly acceptable?” In a letter marking the event, Boehner said, “It is fitting to host this event in a building that owes its status as the world’s greatest symbol of freedom and democracy to the service of unshakable leaders like Tom Lantos.
MEMRI also presented its annual report on anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial in the Arab and Muslim world, which deals with the supporters of hateful messages and the brave voices who oppose them.