The Union of French Islamic Organisations is surprised at the current controversy provoked by a statement by the National Front spreading inaccurate information about Sheikh Qaradawi when he has visited France and Europe on several occasions.
The UOIF regrets that the climate of suspicion toward the Muslim community is the source of a controversy over information that has been available for months.
Sheikh Qaradawi is a man of peace and tolerance who has worked for openness and moderation and whose positions are always in favour of justice and peoples' freedom. He was received by Pope Jean-Paul II and for several years has carried out work on interfaith dialogue with Jewish and Christian communities around the world.
He exercises a positive influence in the Muslim world and is continually attacked by extremist movements because of his modern positions in favour of democracy, women's rights and dialogue between civilisations.
Sheikh Mahmoud El Masri has been invited twice this year by different organisations in France to participate in numerous conferences and this did not then pose any problem for the French authorities.
The UOIF regrets that dubious information supplied by the extreme right should be the source of such controversy.
The UOIF calls on politicians and the media not to fall for the sickening amalgam by repeating the themes of the far right and exploiting the tragedy in Toulouse.
The UOIF would emphasise that it rejects any importation of the Israel-Palestine conflict onto French territory and strongly condemns Islamophobia, racism and antisemitism.
In this period of economic and social difficulty our national community needs to demonstrate unity and solidarity in order to take up the challenges we face.
The UOIF invites all French citizens, Muslims and non-Muslims, to come and hear for themselves the lectures by the invited individuals. The speeches at the annual gathering of Muslims in France have always been marked by peace and tolerance. The Muslim community has always shown great responsibility in relation to painful events.
This responsibility and openness to dialogue will be demonstrated, once again, on the 6 to 9 April, at the Parc des Expositions at Paris – Le Bourget on themes related to Faith, Reform and Hope.
Still, the Front National can console themselves with the thought that they have the support not only of Sarkozy but of Harry's Place too.