Macron gives French Muslim leaders 15 days to 'admit' Islam is an 'apolitical religion'

Macron gives French Muslim leaders 15 days to 'admit' Islam is an 'apolitical religion'
President Macron has asked the French Muslim community to draw up a charter that stipulates Islam is a religion and not a political movement.
3 min read
19 November, 2020
French President Emmanuel Macron held a meeting with French Muslim leaders [AFP/Getty]
French President Emmanuel Macron has told French Muslim leaders to draw up a charter in 15 days which admits Islam is an apolitical religion. 

President Macron held discussions on Wednesday evening with several Islamic representatives, France24 reported in Arabic, requesting they draw up a charter which France's Council of the Islamic Faith must abide by.

Macron said the charter should include an affirmation of French values, a specification that Islam in France is a religion and not a political movement, and stipulate an end to any interference or affiliation with foreign countries.

The meeting included discussions on the formation of a national council of imams which would be responsible for the approval of Muslim clerics in the country.
The head of the French Council of the Islamic Faith, Mohamed Mousavi and the dean of the Paris Mosque, Shams El Din Hafez, attended the meeting, in addition to representatives of the nine federations that make up the French Council of the Islamic Faith (CFCM).

The CFCM is a nationally elected body which serves as an official interlocutor with the French state in the regulation of Muslim religious activities.

President Macron told the meeting attendees that it is necessary to "get out of this confusion", saying he believes a number of them have ambiguous positions on these issues.

Macron warned that "if some do not sign this charter, we will draw conclusions," adding that he "took note of their proposals".

A newly-created council of imams will not only be able to issue permits to imams, but will also have the power to withdraw these permits if they violate the "Charter of Republic Values" Macron has asked them to draw up. 

Depending on the role of the imams, they will need to have a certain fluency in the French language and possess university-level academic qualifications.

Macron hopes, with the formation of the National Council of Imams, to remove the presence of 300 foreign imams from Turkey, Morocco and Algeria within four years.

The grisly beheading last month of teacher Samuel Paty, who showed his pupils cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a lesson on free speech, has reignited debate on Islam in France 

Macron has defended France's strict brand of secularism and the re-publishing of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, sparking a backlash from Muslims around the world.

He has also been accused of persecuting Muslims in France, with authorities currently cracking down on Muslim NGOs under a new 'separatism' law that has been criticised as curtailing civil liberties.

Even before the beheading last month, Macron had promised a tough new campaign against "Islamism" which had aroused controversy and condemnation from Muslims around the world.

Read more: Macron faces backlash after claiming 'secularism never killed anyone'

Protests against Macron's perceived Islamophobia erupted have across the Muslim world, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Mali, Mauritania, Lebanon and Yemen.

World leaders have also weighed in on the matter, with Macron and Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan trading barbs and insults. 

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