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Muslim pilgrims visit Jerusalem

French Imam Hassan Chalghoumi, undeterred by extreme voices, launches Muslim pilgrim voyages to Israel.
People visit the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City, where the Dome of the Rock (L) and Al-Aqsa mosque (not seen) stand May 18, 2012. The grand mosques in Mecca and Medina, the two holiest in Islam, draw millions of pilgrims annually. Al-Aqsa, the last of the three sacred sites the Prophet Mohammad urged Muslims to visit, sees only a few thousand foreign worshippers a year. Picture taken May 18, 2012. REUTERS/Ammar Awad (JERUSALEM - Tags: POLITIC
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French Imam Hassan Chalghoumi is a busy man. Having come back from Israel just a few days ago, he is already preparing his next trip. He has scheduled for the coming months not one visit but at least four more pilgrim voyages. And no, he is not going to Mecca, but to Jerusalem. He is a man with a mission. 

Chalghoumi's life journey is unique. The young Muslim leader arrived from Tunisia to France 17 years ago, after studying in fundamentalist madrassas both in Syria and Pakistan. He called for jihad. But his encounters in France and elsewhere brought a profound change, and he has become an ardent supporter of the bill proposed by former French President Nicolas Sarkozy against wearing the burqa in public spaces. His position brought on him the wrath of extreme Muslims in France, but the more they opposed him, the more moderate his discourse became, preaching for tolerance and dialogue.

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