Kalorama lecture/ Dr Dalil Boubakeur
Ambassador’s Residence, March 31st 2011
Monsieur le Recteur,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It’s a great pleasure for my wife Sophie and for me to welcome you tonight to the Residence for the latest edition of the Kalorama Lecture.
I presented my credentials to President Obama only one month ago but this is our third in the United States and I am pleased to see many familiar and friendly faces in the audience.
I am particularly honored to introduce this evening an exceptional individual, Dr. Dalil BOUBAKEUR, Recteur of the Paris Mosque.
Dr Boubakeur is a key figure
I would even say a leading figure - in the French Muslim community. He has been the Rector of Paris’s Grand Mosque since 1992. He was also the first Chairman of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (2003 to 2008). This Council was created almost 10 years ago to give the French government a single official representative among the country’s Muslim community.
Born in Algeria in 1940, Dr. Boubakeur came to France in 1957. After studying medicine in Paris, he worked as a doctor at Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris and taught medicine in various Parisian universities. He has served as Vice-President of the Ordre des Médecins de Paris (the Parisian Medical Association).
Dr. Boubakeur is the author of many books on issues ranging from bioethics to philosophy. Together with the former Chief Rabbi of France Joseph Sitruk he wrote “The Ten Commandments” on Islam in France.
I’d like to underline that Recteur Boubakeur is one of the figures in France most committed to interfaith dialogue.
The United States and France have a strong tradition of defending and promoting religious freedom and tolerance, even if our two countries, based on their respective histories, have chosen different ways to do so. French history
bears witness to a plague of religious wars.
These historical circumstances have led to a particular concept of secularism and State neutrality in religious matters that are at the core of our “vivre ensemble”, our living together. The strict separation of church and state, formalized through legislation in 1905 as the separation between religions and politics, became known as laïcité.
The principle of laïcité has been the instrument and condition of harmonious religious plurality and cultural diversity within French society. And in this respect it is important to remember that France has both one of the largest Muslim populations in Europe and the largest Jewish community in Europe - and actually the third- largest in the world after Israel and the United States.
And some of you may remember that a few months ago Richard Prasquier, the head of CRIF – the Federation of Jewish organizations in France – was the speaker at another Kalorama Lecture.
Laïcité ensures respect for all creeds and beliefs, equal individual rights for all citizens, regardless of their affiliation with a particular community, and the neutrality of state institutions with respect to religion.
Tonight we have a unique opportunity to step back from the hectic news cycle, to put things into perspective and to hear the compelling voice of a revered specialist of Islam and a committed upholder of an Islam of France.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is my privilege to give the floor to Dr. Dalil BOUBAKEUR./.
- Dalil Boubakeur
- Speaking during a Kalorama Lecture at the French Residence on March 31, 2011.