Le Figaro: Announcing the death of the Council of the Islamic Religion in France… What is the alternative?

The establishment of the forum will not erase the suspicions of the many mosques that did not adhere to the council, nor the Muslim youth who reject the subordination that the government wants for Muslims.

The French newspaper Le Figaro said that this is a crucial period for Islam in France, after the French Council of the Muslim Faith is on the verge of disintegration in favor of a new body like the German model, called the “French Islam Forum” that the government may announce next week.

The newspaper explained – in Investigation By Jean-Marie Genoa- The council, which is experiencing a difficult moment, was scheduled to be led by the current president of the Paris Mosque, Shams El-Din Hafez, on January 20, although he has been in rebellion against the organization for a year, because of a draft charter for the imam of the council, which he sees as loving Islam, but not republican enough.

Professional lawyer Shams El-Din Hafez left the council ship “permanently” in March 2021, but not without causing losses – as the writer sees – as he took with him 4 institutional unions, including the former Association of Muslims of France, to establish a new body amid the turbulent waters of Islam In France, a rival and antagonistic “coordination”, he sought to undermine the Council in a relentless battle for influence.

And there is an internal email signed by the dissidents from the council and Shams Al-Din Hafez personally, implicitly announcing his return to the presidency of the committee on January 20, to replace the current president, Muhammad Mousavi, whose term is approaching the end, especially since it is logical for him to take over The semi-annual rotating presidency according to the rules of procedure as one of the 3 vice presidents, had he not resigned from the office of the Central Council 9 months ago.

However, the leak of this information angered Hafez, who accuses Mousavi of “conspiring” to “illegally remain at the head of the council”, and reiterated that “the Union of the Great Mosque of Paris renews its complete and final withdrawal from all the bodies of the French Council of the Muslim Faith”, and refused to respond to Le Figaro’s questions, but there are those who say that the pro-Algerian Paris mosque has never accepted the presidency of Moroccan Mohamed Moussaoui, who “literally” – as an expert confirms – adheres to the statute of the Council, and seeks to convene an emergency general assembly to settle the crisis.

big break

In this context, the writer cautioned that the French state – for its part – is tired of this issue, and has begun to lose patience and confidence in the Council, which was established in 2003, when former President Nicolas Sarkozy was Minister of the Interior, and that is why, a few months ago, it launched regional consultations between Muslim leaders to find a solution. Alternative, and what is expected to be announced – perhaps on the second of next February – about a new organization, ending the independent administration, to be replaced by a very smooth and weakly organized participatory platform intentionally – according to the author – called the “French Islam Forum”.

This new forum constitutes a major break, because the French Council of the Muslim Faith was designed for the Islamic federations that were founded long ago by immigrants, and which represent its DNA, and therefore the ambassadors of Algeria, Morocco and Turkey were at the table of honor, accompanied by the representative of the French Republic, at the “Dinner”. Annual and official organized by it.

As for the new forum, clearly inspired by the German Islamic Conference, it wants to be free from any connection with so-called “consular” Islam, and to move away from dependence on foreign capitals, to rely instead on 100 unknown Muslims chosen by the provinces in each French state from among the most dynamic elements In this religion, who were monitored by the administration during 300 local Islamic meetings.

Karoui: Announcing the death of the council, if it is a good thing, should not repeat the mistake of searching for “the legitimacy of the representatives with the forum, because there will be no consensus on who represents Islam in France.

no elections

These 100 Muslims have already started working in 4 national “working groups” of limited duration, because they will deal with many topics, and they will study the main issues, such as training imams and others in France in a republican spirit, preventing anti-Muslim actions, and applying the “law of worship” clause within Law “Promoting Respect for the Principles of the Republic,” issued on August 24, 2021, includes chaplains for the army, prisons, and hospitals.

As for the second rupture – as the newspaper says – it concerns the French administration itself. This administration has always been cautious with regard to religious matters so as not to go beyond the precise limits of secularism, after it launched the French Council of the Islamic Religion to be liberated from it only when internal conflicts erupted; It now operates in a voluntary, authoritarian and undemocratic framework, where there are no elections. Rather, it is the Ministry of Interior that selects the new representatives of Islam based on the advice of the governors, even if a ministerial source argued, “We are providing the playing field, but we are not the ones playing the game.”

This source from the Ministry of the Interior sums up the matter in that they want to cut the roots of foreign interference and eradicate Islamist tendencies, “We are not against future elections, but we want to tackle issues of Islam in France in a pragmatic and tangible way to get results. We are not looking for consensus but for efficiency. of a false consensus that conceals the fundamental differences in the Council.”

And it was the Minister of the Interior, Gerald Darmanan, who announced the death of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, when he said at the end of the year that “the French Council of the Muslim Faith is no longer a partner in relation to the public authorities,” which called Muhammad Moussaoui at the time to protest, and considered the minister’s statements “unacceptable”, although he He now admits that the council is “unable to function in its present form”, and is even considering, among other things, “self-dissolving”, but “well and adequately”, in the context of an “extraordinary general meeting”.

In this context, Kamel Kabtan – head of the Great Mosque of Lyon and one of the founders of the council – says that “saying that the French Council of the Islamic Faith has died is not from the role of the state, and it is up to Muslims to say that. The forum has discovered good people, and this is a good start for future managers,” but he warns That recognition needs real representation, which means that “sooner or later every constituency will have to elect its own representatives.”

The researcher and reference at the French Center for Scientific Research, Franck Fregosi, says that “the disappearance of the council suits everyone, but it does not solve the problem, and the effect of the announcement of the establishment of the forum will not erase the suspicions of many mosques that did not adhere to the council, nor the Muslim youth who reject the subordination that the government wants for Muslims.”

The writer concluded that there is another danger pointed out by Hakim al-Qarawi, who calls for French Islam, when he said that “announcing the death of the council if it was a good thing, the forum should not repeat the mistake of searching for” the legitimacy of the representatives, because there will be no consensus on who It represents Islam in France.

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