This is about an intriguing--maybe even hopeful--report in yesterday's New York Times. Written by Steven Erlanger, a real class act foreign journalist, it is about a Tunisian Muslim who arrived in France at 24 and now, at 38, preaches to a mosque in Drancy, the very spot where, during the Nazi occupation, the Jews were shipped off to the concentration camps.
He walks a thin line in Drancy. Male worshippers are appalled by his views. But they are his views, and he doesn't shrink from them. Here is Erlanger's shorthand for why Hassen Chalghoumi may be "the imam of President Nicolas Sarkozy's dreams."
He supports a ban on the full facial veil, the so-called burqa; he opposes religious radicalism and promotes a "republican Islam" focused on France; he is ecumenical; and he favors dialogue with France's Jews.
A good man, clearly. Will French Islam rally to his call? Or will French xenophobia drive his followers away?