Senators critique an ‘Islam of France’ under foreign influence

The Senate report is concerned with France’s dependence on Algeria, Morocco, Turkey, and Tunisia for certain religious affairs. It lists the domains where their influence remains strong: financing mosques, providing and sending imams overseas to France, and determining the structure of the Islamic federations. However, according to the figures provided in the report, the funds from foreign countries are less than we might think: six  million each year from Morocco and no more than 4 million from Saudi Arabia.

The report argues that the resources exist in France, notably from donations from worshippers. “An imam confirmed…that zakat received during Ramadan increased more than 1 million,” said senator Nathalie Goulet. The report is not opposed to foreign funding but rather hopes to increase transparency. To do that the senators hope to relaunch the Foundation for Islam in France, created in the mid 2000s but never truly inaugurated. It would collect and redistribute funds.

July 6, 2016




‘Deport 5 million Muslims’: Bernard Cazeneuve denounces Eric Zemmour’s remarks

“I know, it’s unrealistic, but history is surprising. Who would have said in 1940 that a million pieds-noirs, twenty years later, would leave Algeria to come to France?” - French Author Eric Zemmour's stirs controversy with remarks about France's Muslim community.
“I know, it’s unrealistic, but history is surprising. Who would have said in 1940 that a million pieds-noirs, twenty years later, would leave Algeria to come to France?” – French Author Eric Zemmour’s stirs controversy with remarks about France’s Muslim community.

Eric Zemmour has previously been referred to as racist, sexist and xenophobic and his October interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Serra has again created controversy.

The interview was published October 30 in the Italian newspaper and was brought to the French public’s attention by Jean-Luc Mélenchon who stated that Muslims “live together in the banlieues,” that “the French were forced to leave [the area] because of them,” and that “this situation of a people in a people, Muslims within the French people, will lead to chaos and war.” When asked: “Well what do you suggest: deport 5 million French Muslims?,” Zemmour responded: “I know, it’s unrealistic, but history is surprising. Who would have said in 1940 that a million pieds-noirs, twenty years later, would leave Algeria to come to France?”

On his blog, Mélenchon wrote: “Zemmour confuses foreigners and immigrants. This mix-up contains a logic that it could lead to civil war, and it’s why his suggestion is so dangerous.” Mélenchon also notes that Zemmour’s immigration statistics combine foreigners and naturalized citizens. “For him, those are ‘Français de papier,’ an expression used by the far-right said before the war and in current discourse. For him, one cannot ‘become French.’ When the time comes, it will be necessary to pick out and take away ID cards. Which is what Philippe Pétain’s government did.”

The Amalgamation of Islam and Violence

July 8, 2014

Minister of the Interior Bernard Cazeneuve recently spoke at a meal breaking the fast during the month of Ramadan. “The French government will demonstrate a complete steadfastness toward those who attack your community,” he affirmed in a speech before several Arab diplomats and religious leaders, including the ambassadors to Algeria and France.

Cazeneuve warned that anyone who attacked a Frenchman for his religious beliefs would be “ruthlessly pursued, arrested and punished.”He condemned acts of discrimination and violence towards Muslims and stated, “To associate Islam with violence, is not only wishing to pit Frenchmen against one another, it’s to profoundly misunderstand Islam and religion.” His statement reaffirmed that of Francois Hollande, whose recent speech highlighted the fact that Islam and democracy are compatible.

Dalil Boubekeur was “touched” by Cazeneuve’s speech. “His commitment to make France, Muslims and non Muslims and all its citizens, a peaceful country and one of tolerance, really pleased me.” According to recently released figures, France’s Muslim population is currently between 5.5 and 6 million.

Gilles Kepel on the Socialist Party losing the ‘Muslim Vote’

April 27, 2014

In an interview, French political scientist Gilles Kepel discusses his research on the evolving trends of the ‘Muslim vote’ in France. In his book, ‘Passion Francaise’, he looks into the case of candidates of North African origin who presented themselves to the 2012 legislative elections in France, especially in the cities of Roubaix and Marseilles. Kepel undertook to understand why and how these citizens portrayed themselves as representatives of the French people.

Kepel discovered the candidates belonged to a wide variety of political affiliations. Not all were left-wing; in fact some were on the right and even part of the far-right group, the Front National. The majority were ‘anti-establishment’, which rendered them more vulnerable to criticisms from the FN and the UMPS (Union pour un Movement Populaire – Parti Socialiste). Above all, a common point shared between all candidates’ was that they considered themselves fully French.

The majority of Muslims in France have typically been known to siding with the left. In the 2012 presidential elections, between 72% and 89% of voters defining themselves as Muslim voted for Francois Hollande. In his work, Kepel however intentionally sought out a wide spectrum of political identities since showing this variety proves that there is not one Muslim vote.

Kepel discusses why the Socialist Party lost the Muslim electoral body in the 2014 municipal elections. According to Kepel, Muslims have mobilized themselves as full-fledged citizens in their own right, even through voter absenteeism, which is indeed an electoral choice in some form. Kepel sees the loss of historical bastions of the left and the Socialist Party like Aulnay-sous-Bois, Bobigny, Le Blanc-Mesnil, Argenteuil, Asnières to the right as the result of increased job insecurity in the younger generation. The Socialist Party’s support for gay marriage also led to the deterioration of their image. The Manif pour Tous (‘Protest for All’) movement created a window of opportunity for identifying with the anti-gay Catholic community of the right, and thus through the medium of a value system, to affirm oneself as French. The majority of Muslim voters abstain, but the taboo on the Front National has been lifted. Kepel stresses that this a real significant transformation.

Kepel points out the good news in his book is that the Muslim candidates are not as sectarian as feared. Even when they lay claim to their Muslim identity, as soon as they enter the political arena, these candidates define themselves first and foremost as French. The only sectarian lobby is the Union des Associations Musulmanes de Seine Saint Denis (UAM 93). But according to Kepel, such a lobby doesn’t really work, because Muslim voters are not going to vote for a candidate just because they’ve agreed to open a mosque somewhere, but they vote like all other citizens in accordance with their social and political preferences. That being said, an ongoing exclusion does put them at risk, in the long run, of developing into a large community of ‘excluded’ pitted against the ‘elites’ and ‘Zionists.’

In the 2012 legislative elections, Kepel noted that there were 400 Arab names, a half-dozen of which made it to the list of 577 winners. This is the first time something like this has happened since the era of French Algeria, which provided 49 Muslim deputies to the Assembly. Up until today, Kepel esteems that France and Algeria haven’t taken responsibility for the significance of their 132 year relationship, which is a root cause of the ongoing French ‘identity blockage.’ This relationship has been obscured by both the French and Algerian nationalists. The children of immigration had still been excluded from real political participation, until the situation was finally challenged by the protests of 2005. The widespread violence served as a trigger for voter registration. From then on, the descendants from North African and Sub-Saharan African immigration have been making an entry into civic rights and political realms – and that has never before done, opines Kepel.

France sets remembrance date for Algerian war victims

News Agencies – November 8, 2012

France has set March 19 as the annual date of remembrance for victims of the 1954-62 Algerian war, in a diplomatic gesture to Algeria before a visit by President Francois Hollande next month. The Senate upper house of parliament approved the date in a vote that ended years of disagreement over when to mark the conflict that ended more than a century of French colonial rule in Algeria and left deep scars on both sides.

The Senate, controlled by the ruling Socialist Party, voted by 181 votes to 155 in favor of a bill to use the date of the March 19, 1962 ceasefire to remember hundreds of thousands of dead on both sides in Algeria, and also in parallel Moroccan and Tunisian independence struggles.

The fixing of a remembrance day, exactly 50 years after the war ended, is symbolic, but groups representing relatives of victims of the war have said it will not fulfill their desire for a full apology for France’s colonial past.

Algeria fetes 50 years of independence from France but war memories, and rancour, still thrive

News Agencies – July 5, 2012


As the Muslim North African nation celebrates 50 years of nationhood, the two countries are locked in a war of memories that still weighs on lives on both sides of the Mediterranean, and on the two countries’ ties. There have been no apologies for the brutal eight-year war that ended 132 years of French rule in Algeria or admissions of the longstanding allegations of torture. A half-century after Algeria broke free and wrenched from France the crown jewel of its empire, there is no reconciliation.

But Algerians keep waiting, while the French remain traumatized by loss and guilt. “Time is not sufficient” to make the wounds on both sides disappear, said Benjamin Stora, a leading French historian on the era. “We see that the more time passes, the more memory returns.

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika kicked off a year of celebrations, laying a wreath at the soaring monument dedicated to the Algerians who lost their lives in the war — known as “martyrs.” On a hill overlooking Algiers, the monument is a symbol of the legitimacy of the Algerian state, whose ideological foundations are embedded in the independence war.

Algeria claims that 1.5 million people died in the 1954-1962 war, which they call a revolution. That figure is contested by historians who believe 300,000-400,000 died — still more than the number of French killed in World War I. That compares to about 30,000 French soldiers killed in Algeria.

At an exhibition hall at the French Army Museum in Paris, under the roof of the gold-domed Invalides where Napoleon is buried, there is a quiet effort under way to own up to one rarely spoken truth. Part of an exhibition devoted to the French conquest, the war and the evacuation, the photos depicting French torture are a first. The photographer, Jean-Philippe Charbon, refused their publication while he was alive.

Algeria doesn’t want French gunman’s body

News Agencies – March 28, 2012


A young man who claimed responsibility for France’s worst terror attacks in years will be buried Thursday in a Muslim cemetery near the southern city where he was killed in gunfight with police, religious leaders said. Burying Mohamed Merah is a sensitive issue for both his native France and his father’s native Algeria.

His father wanted him buried in a family plot in Algeria. Merah’s body was brought to the airport in the city of Toulouse, and his mother had been expecting to accompany it to Algiers on a flight later in the day. But Abdallah Zekri of the French Muslim Council, or CFCM, told The Associated Press that Algerian authorities refused for “reasons of public order.” Zekri had been liaising with Algerian authorities in Toulouse. Instead, Merah will be buried at the Muslim cemetery in Cornebarrieu, near Toulouse, Zekri said.

New film, “Halal Five-O,” opens in France

New Agencies – February 23, 2011

Revealing a side of France that’s seldom depicted in homegrown commercial movies, the couscous cop caper Halal Five-O (Halal, police d’Etat) will likely be remembered as a cultural studies artifact rather than as a successful comedy. Written by and starring Eric Judor and Ramzy Bedia the script showcases the team’s sketch comedy roots by going from one outré gag to another, using anything from a slice of ham to a talking extraterrestrial in order to draw a laugh. Yet such laughs are few and far between, though the writers and first-time director Rachid Dhibou deserve some credit for using humor as a means to attack racial stereotypes prevalent in France today.

Traveling from Algeria to Paris to investigate the murder of one of their diplomats, the flamboyant Inspector Nerh-Nerh (Bedia) and his paranoid sidekick, Le Kabyle (Judor), find themselves competing against a tough commissaire and two detectives in a race to catch the killer.

A new Islamic Council is founded in Basque Country

Twenty four Islamic associations have founded an Islamic Council in the Basque Country on 8th of December. The Council has the aim to represent the Islamic communities and to be a unique interlocutor with the regional government. The Muslim Basque Council is open to all cultural, political and religious associations mainly composed by Muslims and which work for the normalization of the Islam in the Basque society. Currently, the Council is composed by Muslims from countries as Morocco and Algeria, but also seek to represent Muslims from Senegal, Pakistan and other nationalities.

January, 24/2011

Professor Mohammed Arkoun: A Courageous Intellectual Who Advocated A Tolerant, Liberal and Modern Islam Died on September 14, 2010

muhammad-arkounIn a tribute to the Algerian Islamic scholar Mohammed Arkoun, who died at the age of 82 in Paris, France, on Tuesday, September 14, 2010, Algeria’s Minister of Culture, Khalida Toumi, said that Professor Arkoun “believed in dialogue between cultures and civilizations of which he was an ardent activist” and “his sincerity and dedication to bringing people and religions together have made him a true messenger of peace and harmony between different societies.” In her condolence message she also stated that he was “the author of books in the field of critical thinking who taught in the most prestigious universities of the East and the West.”

Amongst his peers around the world, Professor Arkoun was regarded as one of the most influential scholars in Islamic studies contributing to contemporary Islamic reform.

A native of the Berber village of Taourirt-Mimoun, Kabylie, Algeria, Mohammed Arkoun studied at the Faculty of Literature of the University of Algiers and at the Sorbonne in Paris. He established his academic reputation with his studies on Ibn Miskawayh (932-1030), a prominent Persian philosopher and historian.