Paris Grand Mosque chairman backs military action in Syria against ISIS

Story highlights

  • "It is absolutely necessary" to send armies to take ISIS territory, Dalil Boubakeur tells CNN's Christiane Amanpour
  • Boubakeur, chairman of the Great Mosque of Paris, says French Muslims mustn't forget they are French
  • Boubakeur: The media put their microphones in front of radicals and ignore those who speak out against violence

Paris (CNN)Expressing outrage at ISIS' perversion of his religion, the chairman of the Grand Mosque of Paris called on Thursday for military action against the group's stronghold in Syria.

"America doesn't want to, can't send men after Iraq, after Afghanistan — no longer wants to send men to Syria," Dalil Boubakeur said in French. "And yet it is necessary, only soldiers taking back territory is the way to push them back."
    "You're saying," Amanpour responded, "that you have to send armies to occupy the land that they hold?"
    "It is necessary, it is necessary. It is absolutely necessary. Because all they will do is advance in the countries where they set up and terrorize people, force them to flee elsewhere. So those countries are empty for them to occupy and make their people stronger and stronger, more and more aggressive, and more and more armed."
    "Little by little," he admitted, the group has been able to radicalize the thinking of young Muslims in Europe.
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    It is a "great error," he said, "not only of Muslims but of the world [as a whole] to accept this."
    Many French Muslims, he said, "forget that they are French people. And they forget that as French people they must also [behave like] French people like the others, you know?"
    It is "very important [for] French Muslim people to express their French nationality, their French taste, their French values, their French [rejection] of what is the danger for them, France, and for our religion also."
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    "Where are the massive marches," Amanpour asked, "by the Muslim community around the world? Just get out there and tell these Muslims, these radicals, these extremists, the people you're talking about, 'No!'"
    "It is the true question," he said in English.
    "But each time I talk here in the Grand Mosque of Paris they say to me, 'Sir you do not represent the Muslims, the young who think differently.' And I say yes, because I don't think like them. The people who think like me are discreet, people don't listen to us, and apart from you," he told Amanpour, "the media don't pay us any attention."
    The media, he added, only put their microphones in front of frothing radicals.
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    The ISIS attack that left 129 people dead in Paris last Friday has given renewed urgency to the debate over how — and whether — to beat back the ISIS stronghold in Syria and Iraq, and more broadly how to bring to an end Syria's 4½-year civil war.
    The ringleader of the Paris attack, a Belgian-born French national, spent significant time in Syria. He had since returned to Europe, slipping through authorities' fingers, and was killed in a spectacular early morning raid on a Paris apartment Wednesday.
    Boubakeur said ISIS had nothing to do with Islam, and was engaging in a war of ideology.
    "Our religion is not one of violence, of jihadism, of terrorism, of women who kill."
    "In what page of [the] Quran is that written that a woman must take bombs inside her body to explode and kill other people? In what part of Quran is that said? In what page of Quran is it said that we shall kill innocent people? Young people?"