france24– Muslim leaders in France have agreed on a “charter of principles” requested by President Emmanuel Macron in his bid to eradicate sectarianism and extremism. Macron on Monday called the document “an extremely important step”.
The charter, adopted by the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) on Sunday, rejects attempts to “instrumentalise” Islam for political ends and affirms equality between men and women.
It denounces practices such as female circumcisions, forced marriages or “virginity certificates” for brides, and also explicitly rejects racism and anti-Semitism.
Mosques “are not created to spread nationalist speech defending foreign regimes”, the charter warns.
A statement from the French president’s office on Monday afternoon said that Macron deemed the agreed charter a “clear and precise commitment in favour of the Republic”.
During a meeting with the the leadership of the CFCM at the Élysée Palace, the president said the document also marked “an extremely important step” in permitting “a clarification in the organisation” of Muslim religious matters, Macron’s office said.
Macron had urged the CFCM to devise the charter in November after the gruesome jihadist killing of Samuel Paty, a schoolteacher who showed cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed to students.
“This charter reaffirms the compatibility of the Muslim faith with the principles of the Republic, including secularism, and the commitment of French Muslims to their complete citizenship,” said the CFCM’s president, Mohammed Moussaoui.
In a statement posted on Twitter, he added the charter would be shared with imams and local leaders, “with a view to the widest possible consultation and membership”.
National Council of Imams
The charter’s formal adoption by the nine federations of the CFCM opens the way to a vast restructuring of Islam in France, particularly the creation of a National Council of Imams (CNI) which will be responsible for “labelling” imams practising in the country.
Earlier, several member federations of the CFCM had criticised the idea of a charter declaring Islam compatible with French law and values – the first step toward creating the proposed CNI.
But Moussaoui and his two vice presidents hammered out an accord in a meeting with Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin.
“There was an awareness that these disagreements were preventing the Muslim community from asserting itself,” Moussaoui told AFP. “This awareness allowed us to overcome our differences.”
“I commend the work undertaken by the French Muslim community which clearly condemns political Islam,” Darmanin said on Twitter.
‘Liberate’ Islam from the Islamists
The charter is part of Macron’s hopes to “liberate” Islam from radicalised influences that encroach on France’s strict secularism and which are blamed for a wave of jihadist killings in recent years.
His government has embarked on a crackdown against extremist mosques and associations, and plans to remove the roughly 300 imams in France sent to teach from Turkey, Morocco and Algeria.
Macron’s government is also pushing through legislation to combat “pernicious” Islamist radicalism, which would tighten rules on issues ranging from religious-based education to polygamy.
The move, along with the president’s defence of controversial Mohamed cartoons published by Charlie Hebdo, has stoked anger among many in the Muslim world who believe Macron is unfairly targeting an entire religion.
Macron has rejected the claims, saying the law aims to protect the country’s estimated four to five million Muslims, the largest number in Europe.