Some 16 Muslim clerics sought to lessen concerns that rampant anti-Semitism permeates the vast majority of European Muslim communities when they told President Shimon Peres on Sunday that they "strongly condemn" terrorism against Jews.
"We would like to calm the concerns of our brothers, the Jews," Imam Hassen Chalghoumi told Peres during an unusual meeting between the president and 16 Muslim imams in France. "We are not affiliated with terrorism against Jews, and we strongly condemn it."
The imams, heads of large mosques and leaders of immigrant Muslim communities from the African continent, voiced their firm opposition to acts of terrorism perpetrated against Jews and Israelis.
"We believe in the sanctity of life," Chalghoumi said. "Life is more important than the Vatican, Mecca or Jerusalem."
Chalghoumi also sharply condemned the attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse a year ago in which Rabbi Yonatan Sandler, his two eldest children and the principal's daughter were murdered. The imam further urged friendly cooperation between France's Muslim community, and the country's Jewish community — the largest Jewish community in Europe.
"We, the Jews, have been victims of discrimination, and that is why we aspire for a world where everyone is free of it," Peres told the Muslim clerics. "We have a shared interest in resolving our disputes in peace rather than allowing terrorism destroy any chance for peace. The Jews and Muslims share a father, our father Abraham."
Addressing the issue of the stalled peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, Peres added that "when the new government is sworn in, an opportunity will arise to renew peace talks."
"We evacuated the settlements in Gaza, but the Palestinians turned the territory into a terror base," he added.