French PM: Hate and extremism are ‘not Islam’
"We must say all of this is not Islam," said Valls
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls stressed on Monday there was no link between extremism and Islam, as he opened a conference aimed at improving ties with France's large Muslim community.
"We must say all of this is not Islam," said Valls. "The hate speech, anti-Semitism that hides behind anti-Zionism and hate for Israel... the self-proclaimed imams in our neighborhoods and our prisons who are promoting violence and terrorism."
Five months after the jihadist attacks in Paris that killed 17 people and shocked the world, the government will hold a series of meetings with top officials from the roughly five million-strong Muslim community, the largest in Europe.
The forum -- expected to be attended by between 120-150 Muslim community leaders as well as top government officials and ministers -- will debate security at religious sites, the image of Islam in the media and the building of new mosques.
Radicalization, however, will not be among the topics discussed during the half-day long gathering at France's interior ministry, which said putting it on the table would be "a bad message to the French and to the Muslim community."
The gathering is a tricky exercise for the government because it is seeking an improved dialogue with the Muslim community, but it must avoid appearances that it is singling it out.
When former French president Nicolas Sarkozy's right-wing opposition party held an internal meeting earlier this month on the "question of Islam" in France, it drew criticism from Muslim groups and some members of the party for "stigmatizing" the religion.
PM: Five terror attacks ‘foiled’ in France in recent monthsFrench Prime Minister Manuel Valls told radio station France Inter that ‘numerous attacks had already been foiled’ World News
Militants in Libya ‘direct threat’ to Europe: French PMValls’ comments come amid growing concern that ISIS has established a foothold in Libya World News
France extends air strikes against ISIS in IraqFrench PM Manuel Valls says ‘France is not at war against Islam’ Middle East
France mobilizes 10,000 security forcesAmedy Coulibaly, one of the three gunmen, likely received help from someone else, Manuel Valls said World News
French PM vows ‘no negotiation’ with Algeria hostage-takersManuel Valls told French radio there would be “no discussion, no negotiation and we will never give in to blackmail” Middle East