PARIS (AP) — French Muslim leaders called Tuesday for the nation's imams to use their pulpits against the Islamic State group and offer a message of support for Christians in the Middle East.
Christians and other minorities there are fleeing the militant organization by the thousands as they face a choice between converting or death.
On Tuesday, moderate Muslim leaders called on French mosques nationwide to offer prayers on Friday for endangered Christians.
"It is a message also for their torturers, those who carry out crimes against humanity," said Patrick Karam, president of the national committee of support for Mideast Christians. "These are not jihadis. These are barbarians, and those who go there to fight are their accomplices in crimes against humanity."
French young people make up the largest group of Europeans heading to fight with militants in Syria and Iraq. Western fighters for the Islamic State group are a top security concern in the U.S. and within Europe's open borders.
Dalil Boubakeur, rector of Paris' principal mosque, said it was crucial to support Christians against barbarity: "We are all, no matter our religion, Christians of the Middle East."