Recently, a group of eight French imams became a part of the general audience with Pope Francis recently, and thereby claiming that they observed the Catholic leader as a figure of peace and reconciliation.
“We feel something strong with this pope. We, the minorities need him,” said Hassen Chalghoumi, a Tunisian imam in Drancy, a suburb of Paris. “Moderates should be supported. We should not be grouped with extremists who burn churches,” he said.
The visit was facilitated by Marek Halter, a French writer of Polish Jewish origin, who had a brief meeting with the pope during the audience in St Peter’s Square. Out of the eight imams who were all “Sufis”, seven hailed from Paris and suburbs and one from Marseille.
Tarak Ben Ammar, Tunisian cinema and television tycoon brought the imams on his private plane stating that the visit would improve inter-religious dialogue. “We have a problem to resolve ourselves. Christians had this in the Middle Ages. Political Islam is winning the upper hand,” Ben Ammar said. Halter said that Francis “can do what Benedict XVI never managed to do: reconcile Christianity and Islam”.