Islam : questions for the candidates

Islam : questions for the candidates, by Abdennour Bidar, Philosophy professor at the preparatory school of Sophia-Antipolis. Organization, imams, education key questions for Muslims in France As an intellectual Muslim engaging in reflection on the identity and future of Islam in France, I would like to pose four questions to the candidates in the presidential election: first of all, do you plan to maintain the CFCM? The work of sociologists has shown that the idea of religion has evolved radically for European Muslims. They don’t abandon their faith, but they adapt it to incorporate Western values of personal choice, autonomy, and responsibility. A new sense of subjectivity has appeared in Islamic culture, which I call a self-Islam, in which each Muslim understands himself to be master of himself and a judge of what he recieves from dogma and religious law. that is to say, he determines for himself the forms of his spiritual life… Can one ignore this evolution and continue to accept here in France that the CFCM functions as “religious power”, “guardian of the faith”, on the model of all the instances of theologico-political domination which have in the Muslim world persisted for centuries in making the spiritual the property of a caste of ulama, imams, rectors of mosques or of Islamic universities? Second question: do you want to create an institute of Imam formation? … Thirdly, do you want to give special rights to practicing Muslims? The issue of Muslim women refusing to be examined by male doctors in alerts us to a certain conservative Islam that is reclaimed as Muslims call for special rights, for a “differentiated treatment.” In the name of what? The right for difference to be recognied in public spaces. The issues are varied: the right to wear the veil at work, the right for children to have halal meals in the cafeteria, the right for women to have women’s-only hours at the swimming pool, the right for students to stay at school on Muslim holidays, the right to Friday as a holiday. Two militant camps are active in favor of these rights. First of all, the multiculturalist school of sociology, for whom the French republic discriminates against its citizens when it persists in negating their cultural differences in the name of a formal idea of equality and a fanatical la’cit’. Then there are the conserviatve Muslims whose figurehead is Tariq Ramadan: their strategy is to reclaim these special rights in the name of “religious freedom”, a category of the freedom of conscience. This is a simple repetition of the tactic of the Muslim Brotherhood, which consists of using the West’s own weapons against it: one uses the principle of freedom of conscience against true freedom. Finally, do you think that the Republic should finance the construction of places of worship? Can the secular Republic help in the financing of mosques? Obviously, along with this question is the debate over an eventual revision of the law of 1905 – is it necessary or not to review the conception and formulation of our principle of la’cit’, of separation between the state and religious groups? Should the Republic break with its principle of non-intervention in religious affairs? …