The management of security and religious affairs: the disappointing results of Interior Minister Manuel Valls in 2013

February 5, 2014

 

According to the recently released 2013 report by the National Observatory of Delinquency and Penal Action, France’s Interior Minister Manuel Valls has not brought down crime nor been active on the regulation of religious committees, contrary to popular perception.

Enjoying successful poll ratings, Manuel Valls has been portrayed as the ‘strong man’ of the socialist government. But according to the report on delinquency and public security, the number of burglaries and homicides has increased despite a government plan to counter crime.

In addition to calling for redefining the mission of the judiciary police and integrating new technologies into the police force, the Interior Minister called for a tighter legal measures on internet and social media networks to stop hate messages. ‘The degree of latent hate expressed on social media is of an incompatible intensity with our national ambitions’, said Valls.

Valls is also in charge of maintaining France’s religious bodies, and the 2013 assessment is particularly weak on his management of Islam in France. At the start of his position in 2012, Valls had expressed ambitious plans in this domain. But up to now, nothing new has been implemented: the ‘Islam question’ may have been deemed too risky and hazardous for an Interior Minister who came across as a hardline supporter of secularism.

Valls had initially said he planned to create another national representative body for Muslims, the CFCM (Conseil Francais du Culte Musulman) deemed too close to foreign agendas. Another project was to implement a ‘Foundation of French Islam’ intended for collecting funds transparently for the construction of places of worship. Valls let believe he wanted to reopen this project, but French Muslims have yet to see any steps forwards from the Interior Minister on this central question.

 

Source: http://www.zamanfrance.fr/article/politique-securitaire-gestion-cultes-bilan-mitige-manuel-valls-7687.html

How is Islamophobia measured in France?

January 28, 2014

 

The number of anti-Muslim acts committed in 2013 and recorded by the National Observatory Against Islamophobia has been published on Sunday, January 26. Last year, 226 anti-Muslim acts (164 threats and 62 actions) were registered with the police. This represents an increase of 11,3% from 2012, though a smaller increase from precedent years (+ 34% in 2011 and +28.2% in 2012).

Amongst such acts on the rise, officials at the Observatory are concerned with an increasing aggression against veiled women. According to the President of the Observatory, Abdallah Zakri, ‘this confirms the unsound climate existing in our country, which is favored by certain declarations made by politicians.’

The Observatory obtains its numbers from complaints filed to the authorities, which they get news of from sources on the ground, such as regional representatives of the Conseil Francais du Culte Musulman (CFCM), mosque leaders and the police. Mr. Zakri then compares their numbers with those obtained by the Ministry of Interior, and claims the findings are always very close. According to him, however, the numbers are always below the reality, as at least 20% of people are not pressing charges. Such an analysis is confirmed by the sociologist Marwan Mohammed who devoted a chapter of his book, Islamophoba: How the French Elite Fabricate the Muslim Problem, to measuring Islamophobia: Relying on the charges pressed by people to measure Islamophobia is a relatively fragile form of data.. We don’t have a viable study on the police reaction towards plaintiffs. Moreover, the complaint can sometimes be rebranded, for example as incitation to racial hatred.’

The findings of the Observatory are much inferior to those of the Collectif Contre l’Islamophobie en France (CCIF) who chooses to record acts on the basis of citizen declarations or media findings. In 2012, the CCIF had identified a total of 469 Islamophobic acts, more than twice the amount of the Observatory’s numbers, which had a total of 201 that year.

These differences reflect the political divisions between the CCIF and the Observatory. The Observatory emerged from the Conseil Francais du Culte Musulman (CFCM) and was created a few months after a convention was signed between the then-Ministry of Interior, Brice Hortefeux, and the CFCM, ‘to keep better track of’ Islamophobic acts.

Although The Observatory eventually broke away to create its own organization, its’ proximity to the government is regularly denounced by the CCIF. The CCIF, which from the start was closer the Union des Organisations Islamiques de France (UOIF), willingly adopts a more polemical tone.

The numbers of the Observatory remain then more consistent with the numbers recorded by the Ministry of Interior. Researcher Marwan Mohammad suggests that Islamophobia is measurable so long as data is cross-checked. As for him, he relies on the number of complaints, the CCIF’s data, and on official sociological studies that regularly point to an increase in anti-Muslim sentiment.

 

Le Monde: http://www.lemonde.fr/societe/article/2014/01/28/la-difficile-mesure-de-l-islamophobie_4355742_3224.html

Contradicting announcements on beginning of Ramadan amongst French Muslim organisations

Zaman France

09.07.2013

The Grand Mosque of Paris has on Tuesday announced the beginning of this year’s Ramadan on Wednesday, July 10, contradicting the French Council of the Muslim Faith’s (CFCM) previous decision to declare the beginning of Ramadan for Tuesday, July 9. The month of Ramadan begins with the sighting of the moon crescent on the ninth month of the Muslim calendar.

 

The CFCM has this year for the first time adopted a new method to determine the beginning of Ramadan by using astronomic calculations instead of moon sightings in order to ease preparations for the holy month. The CFCM has thus announced that Tuesday, 9 July, will be the beginning of the month and  Eid-El-Fitr which marks the end of the month will be on 8 August. The Grand Mosque of Paris’s decision stands in stark contrast to the CFCM announcement and underlines the split between the different groups which compose the French Muslim umbrella organisation, CFCM.

Zaman France

French Council of the Muslim Faith elects new President

30.06.2013

Le Monde

The director of the Grand Mosque of Paris, Dalil Boubakeur, was elected to become the new President of the French Council of the Muslim Faith on Sunday (CFCM). The French Algerian has previously headed the organisation between 2003 and 2008 and succeeds the French Moroccan Mohamed Moussaoui.

The CFCM has recently been making headlines for a number of internal power struggles between the different national movements which make up the organisation following a push for  structural reforms in February. The organisation was created in 2003 under the guidance of the former Secretary of State and later French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, to form a representative body for the several million-strong Muslim community of France.

CFCM slips into new crisis

23.06.2013

The Algerian dominated Great Mosque of Paris (GMP) quit a meeting of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) which was about to endorse the appointment of its director, Dalil Boubaker, as President of the Council.

The spokesperson of the GMP explained that “we left the meeting of the Board because we realized that there was a strategic alliance between Moroccans and Turks against the Great Mosque of Paris, challenging an agreement that we signed yesterday to exit the impasse to which the CFCM was heading to”.

As the crisis loomed, the GMP agreed to withdraw its candidate for the presidency of the CFCM, Chems Eddine Hafiz, disputed by other federations, especially the Morrocan led Rally of French Muslim (RMF).The RMF challenged the candidacy of Hafiz who acts as the lawyer of the Polisario Front, which is fighting for the independence of Western Sahara, annexed by the Rabat government in 1975. Instead of Mr. Hafiz, the GMP was eventually offered to name its director, Boubakeur,  as the President of the CFCM. Boubakeur had at first refused to take the presidency of the CFCM, which witnessed a landslide election win by the RMF in the elections for its regional councils on June 8. The pro-Morocco group dominated with 25 seats, against 8 seats for the Algerians and 7 for the Turks.

The CFCM was established in 2003 to provide the several million strong Muslim population of France a representative body.

French Council on the Muslim Faith vote a success

Liberation

09.06.2013

The much anticipated election of the French Council on the Muslim Faith (CFCM) and the French Regional Council of the Muslim Faith (CRCM) took place this Saturday with great public participation. Despite a widespread boycott call of the Union of Islamic Organisations of France (UOIF), the election was a success with 76% of the registered voter coming to the polls. Almost 2600 members of French organisations all over France came to vote including some regional members of the UOIF in Alsace and Aquitaine, who disregarded the boycott of their national organisation.

The dispute between the three main organisations that make up the CFCM and CRCM, namely the Grand Mosque of Paris (GMP, under French-Algerian influence), Muslim Assembly of France (RMF, under French-Moroccan leadership) and the Union of Islamic Organisations of France (UOIF, under the Muslim Brotherhood influence), electrified the French Muslim umbrella organisation over months leading to a crisis which undermined the reputation, credibility and position of the CFCM and CRCM.  For more than two years the RMF led the organisation after the UOIF and GMP boycotted the 2011 election. In order to overcome the issues between the groups, a controversial reform of the leadership of the organisation was adopted in February, which introduced a greater power sharing mechanisms between the three.

First estimations indicate that the RMF will take over a dozen regional organisation bodies while the GMP will lead between six or eight. The UOIF which boycotted the election will retain only 2 seats out of 44.

French Council of the Muslim Faith for critical internal reform

French Council of the Muslim Faith

14.05.2013

Following a reformation scandal that has profoundly affected and occupied the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) over several weeks, some of its leading members have published an open letter on the organisation’s homepage, which calls for a sincere and critical reform of the CFCM.

The letter calls the previous reforms and election as ‘harmful’  as well as futile. They blame the disastrous campaign to be the birth of power-hungry members who tried to take control over the organisation. According to the undersigned, ‘This robbery took place in broad daylight, without any kind of consultation with the CRCM or associations, without any information or collecting wishes, comments, opinions or comments of the faithful or their representatives. This proves, if proof were needed, that our current French Council of the Muslim Faith has nothing to do with the people in whose name it is supposed to act and exploits it to his advantage’.

They further call the current reforms as useless as they do not ‘promote the conditions for evolution by blocking the influx of new sensibilities and preventing the function of a democratic opposition’.

The undersigned call for a true reform and a boycott of CFCM’s early election on June 8 this year.  Amongst the undersigned are mostly leaders of the organisations regional councils.

French Council for the Muslim Religion (CFCM): Ramadan dates fixed

Liberation

09.05.2013

For the first time in France, the representatives of the Muslim community of the country have used astronomic calculations to determine the dates for the holy Islamic month of Ramadan. The French Council for the Muslim Religion (CFCM) announced that this year’s Ramadan will start on July 9 and finish with the holy fest of Eid-El-Fitr on August 8. Prior to using astronomic calculations, the community organisation has used moon observations in order to determine the commencement of the holy month.

The advantages of adopting a lunar calendar based on astronomic calculations are ‘the foresight, the organisation and the planning’ of the event, says Mohammed Mouassaou, President of the CFCM. According to him, Muslim workers will now more easily be able to demand days off from their employers during the month, schools will be able to adjust their exam period according to the foreseen dates and the Muslim butchers will be able to organise their activities better.

France: Islamophobic attacks on the rise

Liberation

01.05.2013

The French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) reports that Islamophobic attacks have risen in the first trimester of 2013. The rise accounts to 25% within the last 4 months, i.e. 50 anti-Muslim attacks registered with the French police since the beginning of the year in comparison to 40 last year. Last year alone, 201 acts against Muslims have been registered, amongst them 53 hate crimes and 148 threats against Muslims.  The number of Islamophobic attacks has increased in 2012 by 28% compared to 2011, while there has already been a 34% decrease between 2011 and 2010.

The rise of Islamophobia in the country is, amongst other reasons, the result of an increasingly populist discourse in France on Muslims and Islam. The Observatory against Islamophobia, a sub-organisation that is part of the  CFCM, has explicitly warned of the rise of cyber hate against Muslims. Its leader, Abdallah Zekri, has appealed a second time to French President Francais Hollande to ‘declare the fight against Islamophobia a national cause as he’s previously done for the fight against anti-Semitism’.

Local chapters of the French Council for the Muslim Cult refuse reforms.

Vitre Ma Ville

16.04.2013

In an interview with the President of the Regional Council of the Muslim Cult in Bretagne (CRCM), Mustafa Aslan, he expresses  how the recent reforms made by the national chapter of the French Council for the Muslim Cult (CFCM) are rejected by a number of local chapters. The reforms do, according to Aslan, present an unjust representation of the Muslim community in France. Accordingly, 50% of the administration of the council is appointed by the federation without reforms, which possibly negatively impacts  the regional member representation and participation. Regional members will be marginalized despite holding long lasting mandates that were determined prior to the reforms voted on in the general assembly in February. The marginalization of regional representatives is accused to function in favour of those, who are closely associated with the larger urban organisations.

The reforms were past on February 23rd in the general assembly of the CFCM, which consists of a three party alliance made up between the Grand Mosque of Paris, the RMF and UOIF.