President Macron and Interior Minister Gérard Collomb joined the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) for Iftar on June 20.
Macron first thanked the CFCM’s outgoing president Anouar Kbibech for his tenure, which was marked by numerous terror attacks. “Thanks to you, the nation’s unity was upheld along with the voice of reason.”
Macron added: “We live in a time where there is much to divide us, where everything could collapse…Our challenge is, of course, security, as we are faced with raging terrorism, but it is also moral and civilizational. And with this challenge, as part of your [CFCM] responsibilities, you play an important role. The State and public authorities will be with you to face these challenges. My presence here, tonight, by your side, is meant to thank you. Faced with the immense responsibilities that await us, you will have me by your side.”
He concluded: “No one in France should believe that your faith is not compatible with the Republic, no one should think that France and the French reject the Muslim faith. No one can ask French men and women, in the name of the faith, to reject the laws of the Republic.”
One month before the first round of elections, the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) sent letters to the presidential candidates on March 23 requesting interviews. According to the CFCM, contacts have already been made to “solicit a meeting.”
“We have have reached an agreement with Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Benoît Hamon, Emmanuel Macron and François Fillon” stated CFCM’s president Anouar Kbibech. “As for Marine Le Pen, we must decide on the course of action to be taken. It all depends on what happens in the next few weeks.”
The themes the CFCM intends to discuss are broken into two principal categories: their “vision for secularism” and their response to “the fears and worries” of French Muslims regarding discrimination and amalgamations that are made between their religion and terrorism.
It’s official: the Foundation for Islam in France has been launched. The secular foundation, meant to serve as a “public utility,” is one of the pillars of the new Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve’s plan for the future of Islam in France.
The current Foundation replaces the Foundation for Islamic Works, launched by former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, which never truly functioned due to internal squabbles among the country’s Muslim federations. The new foundation received an initial donation of one million euros.
It serves to finance educational and cultural projects, including university diplomas for imams on French secularism (a project supported by 14 French universities), research in Islamic theology, and youth programs.
On December 12, during the first meeting organized by the Interior Ministry, workshops will be held during which those with relevant project ideas can present. If chosen, their project may be eligible for funding.
Anouar Kbibech, President of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, stated: “This foundation is important because it will permit financing for cultural activities backed by mosques.”
Two hundred imams gathered for the second annual RMF (Rassemblement des musulmans de France) colloquium June 5th and 6th. Presiding over the conference, Anouar Kbibech noted that, “Imams must get to know each other better and that we raise the difficulties they encounter on the ground,” including questions related to ritual slaughtering, the burqa and niqab, the organization of funerals and homophobia.
CFCM president and vice-president of the RMF, Mohammed Moussaoui noted that these subjects were also difficult to address when only approximately one-third of French imams speak French with ease, and few among the second generation of French Muslims speak Arabic. Another issue is that only approximately 20% of them are employed full-time by their mosque or from their country of origin, making only minimum wage.
PARIS – French Muslims on Sunday created a new representative group aimed at “complementing” an existing state-sponsored umbrella organisation that has been stalled by infighting. The Rally of Muslims in France (RMF) held a gathering in Paris of 200 heads of mosques and associations to establish itself as an alternative to the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) set up by Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy in 2003. In a statement, the RMF said it wanted to “contribute to the emergence of moderate Islam” that would respect French laws while lobbying on behalf of the country’s estimated five million Muslims. The group is led by Taoufiq Sebti, the president of a regional Muslim group covering the Paris area. The head of another Paris Muslim group also participating, Anouar Kbibech, stressed that the RMF intended to be “complementary, and not a rival, to the CFCM”. The CFCM has been riven by power struggles since its inception. Its president, Dalil Boubakeur, who is rector of the mosque in Paris, said an overdue board meeting of the organisation has again been pushed back, this time to early July. Boubakeur explained that CFCM members agreed to the additional delay at the request of the office of President Jacques Chirac, who next Sunday is to inaugurate a memorial to Muslim soliders who fought for France in World War I.