France’s Muslim leaders discourage abstention

While the majority of French Muslims traditionally have voted for leftist parties, at a recent UOIF conference there was talk of abstention.

The main candidates–save for Marine Le Pen–met the leaders of the French Council of the Muslim Faith before the election’s first round, and the “Muslim vote” could have additional significance in the upcoming election. Despite this, many Muslims at the conference reported feeling disappointed with Hollande’s tenure as president, and were hesitant to cast their vote in the first round.

Amar Lasfar, president of the UOIF, advised French Muslims “not to reduce a candidate to what they say about Islam,” which many took as an endorsement of François Fillon of Les Républicains. “Vote!” he urged during a speech, “Save France from the threat of the far right.”

“Abstention, it’s the wrong choice: it means nothing,” concluded Nabil Ennasri, president of the Collective of French Muslims.


France’s Constitutional Watchdog Endorses Veil Ban

News Agencies – October 7, 2010
France’s constitutional watchdog has endorsed a divisive law forbidding face-covering Islamic veils anywhere in public, but expressed concern about applying it in places of worship such as a mosque. The decision of the Constitutional Council removes a key hurdle for the law, overwhelmingly approved in both houses of parliament last month, despite concerns from some Muslims that it will further stigmatize France’s Muslim community.
The law, the first of its kind in western Europe, forbids veils such as the niqab or burka anywhere in public and imposes a €150-fine ($210) on anyone wearing one – and a €30,000 ($41,700) fine on anyone who forces a woman to wear one. Only some 2,000 women in France are estimated to wear such veils, but proponents see the law as a symbolic defense of French values, such as women’s rights and secularism. After reviewing the law, the council said in its ruling that “the law forbidding concealing the face in public conforms to the Constitution.”
The bill was born after President Nicolas Sarkozy said last year that the burka is “not welcome” in France. However, it is worded carefully, and the words “women,” “Muslim” and “veil” are not even mentioned in any of its seven articles. Opponents have said they could take the law to the European Court of Human Rights.

France Continues Muslim Imam Training

Launched in January 2008 with a largely male class of 25, courses training Muslim chaplains in France have taken place at the Catholic Institute of Paris. Alongside religious training, the program aims to teach France’s legal, historical and social mores to the largely foreign-born student body. According to Interior Ministry spokesperson Gerard Gauchet, the year-long program is not theological-focused. It aims to reflect the largely born-in-France Muslim population; roughly 80 percent of the country’s 1200 imams were born overseas.

France’s Muslims becoming more religious

France’s Muslim minority, the largest in Europe, is becoming more observant, a new survey by the polling group IFOP said. Religiosity indicators such as following daily prayers, visiting mosques, and fasting Ramadan seemed to be increasing in Muslims partaking in the tenants. The rise appears to reflect a reaction to the discrimination felt by Muslims in France, as new mosques are being built around the country. An alternatively proposed reasoning is that it is easier to practice Islam in France, thanks to the building of many new mosques.

French Muslim Council Warns Against Radical Islam

By Tom Heneghan PARIS – The main mission of France’s Muslim Council is to protect France and its Islamic community from religious radicalism imported from abroad, its moderate leader said on Monday after being reelected for a second term. Dalil Boubakeur, rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, said the victory of conservative and moderate mosque networks in elections for the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) showed a large majority of French Muslims rejected radicalism.