French Council on the Muslim Faith vote a success



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.

Racist graffiti sprayed on mosque

Le Figaro


The Regional Council of the Muslim Faith of Alsace announced the discovery of racist inscriptions and a Christian cross on the wall of a mosque under construction. The racist graffiti, which reads ‘French for the French and ‘100% pork’, was discovered by a mosque member in Illzach, Alsace, and is suspected to have been painted upon over night. The Regional Council of Muslim Faith of Alsace has filed a complaint while its national body, the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CRCM), strongly condemned the act.

The act stands in correlation to a general rise of racism, Islamophobia in particular, in France which is reflected in an incline of racist graffiti painted on dozens of mosques since the beginning of the year.

French Council of the Muslim Faith for critical internal reform

French Council of the Muslim Faith


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.

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

Vitre Ma Ville


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.

CFCM elections boycotted by 84% of mosques in the French Rhone-Alps region

Le Parisien – May 13, 2011

According to the CRCM Rhone-Alps (the regional representative of the CFCM, the French Council of the Muslim Faith), 84% of mosques in the region, which includes the Mosque of Lyon, will not participate in the June elections of the CFCM. Associations in the region had until May 11 to sign up to cote in the June elections. Azzedine Gaci, president of the regional group, claims that mosques in this region do not feel represented by the larger CFCM body. Gaci suggested that the elections be suspended until after the 2012 presidential elections so that issues of representativity can be addressed in the organization.

Large mosque in St-Étienne, France vandalized

The grand mosque of St-Étienne (Loire Valley) has been vandalized with ten racist and Islamophobic inscriptions. Similar statements were spray-painted on the mosque four years ago. The Regional Council of the Muslim Faith in the Rhône-Alpes (CRCM) has condemned the attack, adding that they hope justice will but brought forward as quickly as possible. They also requested for a similar parliamentary commission to that examining the burqa and niqab to examine Islamophobia in France.

Imams at Center of the Regional Council of the Muslim Faith

By Azzedine Gaci, {Head of the Conseil R_gional du Culte Musulman (CRCM), R_gion Rh_ne Alpes and teacher/researcher at the _cole sup_rieure de chimie physique _lectronique of Lyon (CPE Lyon)} At the very most, France has no more than 2,000 mosques and places of Islamic worship. Daily prayers and Friday services are led by approximately 1,500 to 1,800 imams across the country. When created in May 2003, the Conseil Fran_ais du Culte Musulman (CFCM) was supposed to prioritize a program for overseeing imams in France. Internal quarrels, however, have dominated the organization and the demand for this oversight has calmed in the political sphere. Since 2003, four ministers of Interior (among them Nicolas Sarkozy) and Muslim religious leaders have been responsible for monitoring the situation. Each time a minister has brought attention to the issue, however, there has been little follow-up.

2006 Eid Assesment: ‘The CFCM hasn’t done anything!’ An Interview with Khaled Bouchama

Khaled Bouchama, a member of the Union of Islamic Organizations in France (UOIF), is also a member of the Ile-de-France Regional Council for the Muslim Religion, the CRCM Ile-de-France. What problems have you run into with this year’s Eid? Khaled Bouchama : The problems are always the same. The lack of ritual slaughterhouses has been aggravated by the cosure of Mantes la Jolie which was not up to code. In Seine-Saint-Denis, there was not a single approved slaughterhouse… SN: The CFCM hasn’t done anything about these problems? KB : The CFCM has done nothing. It needs to own its responsibility in this business, because the job of the CFCM is to defend, in a correct and objective manner, the Muslim religion. The French Muslim community is part of the French nation. The state is responsible for this nation. The CFCM must put pressure on the state so that it facilitates the necessary conditions for the Eid sacrifices. For French Muslims, it is a local matter. But the local prefects can only execute the law. For the law to change, there must be a national political presence.

Islam In Provence’s Landscape

MARSEILLE – Following years of governmental delays, hesitation, and division within the Muslim community, the building project for the Grand Mosque of Marseille was given the go-ahead on 17 July. It is perhaps the most symbolic among a number of current construction projects in the region, which will provide the resident Muslim community with new places of worship, libraries, art and educational centres. The other religious communities in Provence expressed their strong support for these projects. {(continued below in French)} Port_s par le dossier symbolique de la grande mosqu_e de Marseille, les projets foisonnent dans la r_gion. Apr_s un si_cle d’h_sitations, Marseille aura sa grande mosqu_e. Lundi 17 juillet, le conseil municipal a vot_ _ la quasi-unanimit_ la signature d’un bail emphyt_otique de 99 ans, c_dant _ l’association La Grande Mosqu_e de Marseille un terrain de 8 600 m2 dans le 15e arrondissement. _ C’est un moment historique et un symbole de reconnaissance pour les 150 000 _ 200 000 musulmans de Marseille _, s’est r_joui, _mu, Nourredine Cheikh, pr_sident de l’association. Plus qu’un simple b_timent, ce projet constitue le symbole du rattrapage dans lequel s’engage la r_gion Provence-Alpes-C_te d’Azur, o_ les musulmans doivent se contenter de 293 lieux de pri_re am_nag_s dans des foyers de la Sonacotra, des appartements et des caves… Des lieux trop exigus pour recevoir les fid_les dans des conditions d_centes. Six projets vont aboutir dans les ann_es _ venir, _ commencer par la grande mosqu_e de La Seyne-sur-Mer (Var) dont la premi_re pierre a _t_ pos_e il y a deux mois. Le projet comprend un lieu de culte de 400 m2, un centre culturel, des salles de conf_rences et une biblioth_que. _ Un lieu de rencontre et d’_change avec les citoyens de toutes confessions _, pr_cise Abderazak Bouaziz, pr_sident de l’association cultuelle et culturelle de La Seyne-sur-Mer. “Pendant des ann_es, la r_gion a accus_ un retard” _ Toulon, deux nouvelles salles de pri_re de proximit_ verront le jour, tandis que le conseil municipal de La Ciotat votera en septembre la proposition de construction d’une mosqu_e de proximit_ sur le terrain o_ les fid_les prient depuis seize ans, dans des bungalows de chantier anonymes. Comment expliquer une telle profusion ? _ Pendant des ann_es, la r_gion a accus_ un retard, car la communaut_ musulmane _tait divis_e _, explique l’imam Abderrahmane Ghoul, porte-parole du Conseil r_gional du culte musulman (CRCM) en Paca. Depuis juin 2005, cet imam, affili_ _ la Grande Mosqu_e de Paris, a f_d_r_ les diff_rentes tendances de la r_gion et chapeaute les n_gociations entre les associations et les mairies. _ Auparavant, nous _tions confront_s _ de multiples associations, toutes revendiquant un projet diff_rent. Le CRCM a permis d’avoir un interlocuteur identifi_ et l_gitime _, explique Arthur Paecht, maire de La Seyne-sur-Mer. Les _lus sont r_alistes : les musulmans y repr_sentent entre 8 % _ 12 % de la population. _ Les musulmans de France sont des Fran_ais musulmans. Ils sont dans la R_publique et non pas _ c_t_. Nous devons r_pondre _ leur droit de pratiquer leur culte dans un endroit digne _, affirme David Lisnard, adjoint au maire charg_ des affaires cultuelles de Cannes, dont le conseil municipal votera lundi la cession d’un terrain de 1 900 m2 pour construire une mosqu_e de proximit_, rempla_ant la tente o_ 200 personnes prient depuis un an et demi, apr_s la fermeture de la salle du foyer Sonacotra pour des raisons de s_curit_. “La religion musulmane sur la voie de la reconnaissance” Pragmatique, Michel Caillat, maire d’Istres, estime que la construction de lieux de culte pour les musulmans r_pond aussi _ un objectif de transparence : _ Mieux vaut un lieu digne identifi_ et officiel que des endroits douteux dans lesquels risquent de se d_velopper des discours radicaux. _ Pionni_res, les municipalit_s d’Istres et d’Aubagne ont donn_ leur feu vert d_s 2000. _ Aubagne, la blancheur de la mosqu_e de 500 m2 tranche avec les b_timents de la zone commerciale. Stucs et d_corations florales recouvrent les murs de la salle de pri_re des hommes, tandis qu’_ l’entr_e, des cartons de carrelage s’entassent. _ Nous esp_rons avoir termin_ les travaux pour la fin du Ramadan en novembre _, explique Hafidikaddour Hafidi, pr_sident de l’association Dar-Es-Salam, qui a financ_ l’achat du terrain et les travaux gr_ce aux 380 000 _ de dons des fid_les. En attendant la fin du chantier, planches et pots de peinture jonchent le sol, mais peu importe : ici, les fid_les se sentent chez eux. _ La religion musulmane est sur la voie de la reconnaissance _, se f_licite, Si-Mohamed, qui, _ 19 ans, se sent enfin _ consid_r_ comme un Fran_ais musulman _. Les mentalit_s ont _volu_. _ travers l’_dification de lieux de culte officiels, les associations musulmanes n’aspirent qu’_ une chose : faire d_couvrir un islam mod_r_ et effacer des esprits l’amalgame _ islam = terrorisme _. Cette image engendre encore des craintes, comme _ Nice (Alpes-Maritimes), o_ l’association Moubarak et la mairie se livrent _ un bras de fer depuis des mois. “Du racisme et de la discrimination!” En novembre 2005, le maire, Jacques Peyrat, avait d_clar_ : _ Ce n’est pas le moment, face aux violences urbaines et _ la mont_e de l’islam radical, d’installer en plein c_ur de Nice une terre d’islam. _ _ Depuis, _ chaque fois que nous avons souhait_ acqu_rir un lieu en centre-ville, la mairie a us_ de son droit de pr_emption. C’est du racisme et de la discrimination ! _, s’emporte Abdelhamid Razzouk, pr_sident de l’association. Contact_, le maire de Nice a refus_ de s’exprimer sur ce sujet. Depuis, un groupe de travail a _t_ cr?_ en partenariat avec le CRCM. _ Nous avons obtenu un permis de construction pour am_nager une salle de pri_re de 1 000 m2 et remettre _ niveau la vingtaine de salles de pri_res existantes _, dit Otman A_ssaoui, d_l_gu_ d_partemental du CRCM. Les musulmans plaident pour la transparence. Les mosqu_es d’Istres, Aubagne, Marseille et La Seyne-sur-Mer comprendront des espaces culturels ouverts aux non-musulmans, tandis que la mosqu_e d’Istres sera ouverte aux visites scolaires. _ Nous voulons partager notre culture afin qu’elle ne soit pas entach_e d’obscurantisme, c’est le seul moyen de dissiper les craintes _, assure l’imam istr_en Boujeema Imaghri. L’architecture ultra-contemporaine de sa mosqu_e r_sume l’ambition de toute une communaut_ : se fondre dans le paysage. Corinne BOYER, _ Marseille Des projets soutenus par les autres religions Conform_ment _ leur longue tradition d’entente interreligieuse, les diff_rentes communaut_s de Marseille ont toutes apport_ leur soutien au projet de grande mosqu_e. Dans le Var, le service de relation avec l’islam du dioc_se de Toulon a m_me jou_ les m_diateurs aupr_s des pouvoirs publics. _Nous avons rencontr_ les _lus du quartier Pontcarral afin d’offrir des cl_s de discernement et d’_viter les amalgames dans une r_gion marqu_e par un fort vote en faveur du Front national_, explique Gilles Rebeche, diacre du dioc_se de Toulon pour qui l’_glise catholique constitue une _ autorit_ morale reconnue dans la pratique de la la_cit_.