Sheikh Mohammed Toujkani, head of the Association of Imams in Belgium, said that imams in Europe in general and Belgium in particular suffer and bear great responsibilities.
Speaking about the extremist rhetoric Imams in Belgium are accused of using, Toujkani said: “I assure you that whoever is an imam in the full sense of the word, whether from the association or is independent, will not resort to extremism or hate speech.”
Toujkani further stressed that a true Imam displays discipline and acts according to the law.
“However, sometimes mistakes are made or an Imam is triggered by a certain event, but this does not mean it is the adopted public discourse,” he noted on exceptions.
Toujkani also said that for imams in European countries speaking either French or Dutch is important, but not conditional.
As for reforming religious discourse, Toujkani said it has to work to spread the spirit of Islam and its Sharia laws. But if it is reformed to appease racist political parties then it is considered a betrayal to Quranic terms.
Addressing the topic of ISIS militants, women and children returning to Belgium from abroad, the Imam said: “God is forgiving and merciful, because some of them are victims that were misguided on the Internet.”
Toujkani explained that rehabilitation is the answer if returnees showed regret and are willing to repent, especially for the women and children who are innocent. He added that Imams are prepared to engage in dialogue with returnees.
Regarding the imams being subjected to security censorship, Toujkani said: “There must be monitoring because if there is no censorship then you are not in a state.”
“But no one intervened to force us to talk about a subject or not to talk about another,” he underscored.