The Elysee Palace announced that French President Emmanuel Macron received, on Wednesday evening, officials of the Islamic religion in France, who, at his request, presented before him the guidelines for the formation of a national council of imams responsible for issuing credits to Muslim clerics in France and withdrawing them from them when necessary.
Macron asked his interlocutors to draw up, within 15 days, a “Charter of Republican Values” that the French Council of the Islamic Faith and the nine unions that make up of it must abide by, provided that the charter includes an affirmation of recognizing the values of the Republic, and that Islam in France is a religion and not a political movement. And to stipulate the end of interference or affiliation with foreign countries.
Among these nine unions, which represent a large portion of France’s Muslims, there are three that do not adopt a “republican vision,” according to the Elysee.
The head of the French Council of the Islamic Faith, Mohamed Mousavi, the dean of the Paris Mosque, Shams El Din Hafez, participated in the meeting, in addition to representatives of the nine federations that make up the French Council of the Islamic Faith.
The French president told representatives of the federations that he knows that a number of them have ambiguous positions on these issues, stressing that it is necessary to “get out of this confusion.”
Macron, who was subjected to a violent attack because of his statements about extremist Islam, warned that “if some do not sign this charter, we will draw conclusions,” noting that “he took note of their proposals.”
The Council of Imams will not only be empowered to issue permits to imams and give them an official card, but it will also be able to withdraw these cards from them if they violate the “Charter of Republic Values” and a moral code that will be agreed upon.
Depending on the role of each of them: a prayer imam, a mosque preacher and a preacher, each imam will have to be familiar with a different level of French and possess academic degrees that can reach university level.
Macron hopes, behind the formation of the National Council of Imams, to end within four years the presence of 300 foreign imams in France “on scholarships” from Turkey, Morocco and Algeria.
Since his speech in early October against separatism and extremist Islam and after the two jihadist attacks in which teacher Samuel Bate was slaughtered near Paris and three people were killed in a cathedral in Nice (southeast), Macron has increased his pressure on the leaders of the Islamic religion in France to purify it from foreign influence, extremism and political tendencies.
The accession of the French Council of the Islamic Faith to this initiative would be a victory for Macron, who was subjected to violent attacks for his statements about radical Islam.
Macron had earlier warned of the interference of extremist Islamic societies in all areas of public life in France, criticized the claim that Islamic law nullifies the laws of the republic, and denounced the Islamic aspiration to establish a “state within a state” with goals and values inconsistent with the values of the Republic.
Macron also stressed that the solution lies in applying state laws to Islamic societies and dismantling associations that ignore these laws, and went on to introduce a series of initial steps to combat religious extremism, including banning Islamic religious schools in private homes and imposing mandatory public education from the age of three.
Recent French measures included overseeing religious educational institutions, closing extremist institutions and societies, expelling foreign imams who incite violence and dual citizens involved in terrorist activities and illegal immigrants, and monitoring extremist social networks. Increase budgets and manpower for intelligence and surveillance operations.
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