Pope receives French Muslim leaders at the Vatican

 

 

The French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) met with Pope Francis on November 3. The meeting was organized by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, which brings together 200 leaders from different religions.

The delegation was accompanied by Michel Dubost, the Bishop of Evry and president of the Council for Interreligious Relations of the Bishops’ Conference of France, and Vincent Feroldi, director of National Services for Islam Relations (SNRM).

It’s not the first time French Muslim leaders have met with the current Pope. A delegation was received by the Vatican in January 2015, which coincided with the the Paris attacks. The most recent meeting follows the terror attack in July, when a priest, Jacque Hamel, was murdered in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray.

The meeting came with “highly symbolic significance, to send a message of harmony and fraternity,” said the CFCM president.

 

Pope Francis invites French Muslim leaders to meet at Vatican

Pope Francis will receive a delegation from the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) in the Vatican on November 3.

The five members representing the CFCM include President Anwar Kbibech, the three Vice-Presidents and the Secretary General of the organization, Abdallah Zekri. They will meet with the Pope in a private audience after meeting with the prelate in charge of relations with Islam, French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran.

“I am very happy to meet the Pope because he is a man of dialogue and a man of peace,” Adballah Zekri said.

This meeting was reportedly organized on behalf of the Vatican by the French cardinals to strengthen interreligious dialogue between the two faiths, especially in the aftermath of a number of terror attacks. The French cardinals told the CFCM that the Pope had particularly appreciated the institution’s firm positions following the murder of Father Jacques Hamel on July 26 in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray by two terrorists belonging to the Islamic State.

The CFCM delegation will travel to Rome on November 2 for a reception at France’s embassy in Rome. On November 3, they will meet with the Vatican Cardinal in charge of relations with Islam, followed by the private audience with Pope Francis.

France has been particularly hard hit by attacks from Islamic terrorists. Besides the execution of Father Hamel, militants of the Islamic State have carried out two major attacks in Paris, as well as the slaughter of 84 civilians in the south of France as they celebrated Bastille Day.

 

Valls attacks New York Times report on burkini ban

The French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, has accused the New York Times of painting an “unacceptable” picture of his country with an article about discrimination against Muslim women.

The report was prompted by the debate over controversial bans on Islamic swimsuits in many French Riviera towns. Valls said such bans were part of a “fight for the freedom of women”.

The paper said it stood by the article. Some Muslims say they are being targeted unfairly over burkinis.

An increasing number of court rulings have rejected bans on the full-body swimsuit, including in Nice, where an attack on 14 July killed 84 people during Bastille Day celebrations.

Some of the women quoted by the NYT said the clothing was a chance for them to take part in activities, such as going to the beach, in line with their religious beliefs.

Many also complained of an alleged discrimination by non-Muslims exacerbated by the recent attacks in France and Belgium, and of restrictions in wearing the headscarf, banned in French public buildings.

One said: “French Muslim women would be justified to request asylum in the United States… given how many persecutions we are subjected to.”

Another talked of being “afraid of having to wear a yellow crescent on my clothes one day, like the Star of David for Jews not so long ago”.

‘RIP the Republic’: debate over postponing French Muslim students’ exams for religious holiday

Ile-de-France region’s decision to allow those celebrating the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr to postpone graduation exams has sparked controversy. Critics of the move say France is ignoring the principles of secularism.


The measure was proposed by Maison des Examens, which manages the bac in the Ile-de-France region.

This year one of Islam’s most important holidays, Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, is celebrated on July 6. This coincides with the bac exams in France.

On June 30, a directive was sent to head teachers of high schools in Paris, Versailles and Créteil to change the exam schedule for Muslim students if they request it.

Muslim students who opt to celebrate the holiday may skip the exam on Wednesday and request to take it on Thursday or Friday instead, Vincent Goudet, director of the House of Examinations in Ile-de-France, confirmed to AFP on Monday.

The move was immediately slammed by many French officials who say non-Muslim students are being discriminated against. They added that such a precedent would create problems in the French education system.

According to Philippe Tournier, the general secretary of the National Union of management staff of Education (SNPDEN), the idea is “inconceivable.”

“This kind of decision can create a … mess, especially since it contains a lot unsaid things,” he said. “And if all the students say ‘yes’ [to postponing the bac exams because of the holiday], because they prefer to have one more day to review, what will we do?”

Nicolas Cadène, general rapporteur of the Observatory of secularism, told BFMTV that “there is no need for the House of Examination to propose any adaptation, which distinguishes students according to their religious practices.”

A member of the National Assembly of France, Eric Ciotti, wrote an open letter to the national Assembly, calling on Education Minister Najat Belkacem and Prime Minister Manuel Valls to explain the decision. He said it was “unacceptable.”
Social media also blasted the move, saying that postponing exams for Muslims because of religious holidays was the end of the French republic as a secular entity.

“Of course, all France knows whether or not they have their bac and then you have Ile-de-France who has to wait,” one Twitter user wrote, while another user sarcastically added: “It’s a great secular Republic.”

“So Muslim pupils got their bac tests postponed until the end of Ramadan. RIP the Republic,” another user wrote.

Eid al-Fitr, or ‘festival of breaking of the fast’, is celebrated on the first day of the 10th month of the Islamic lunar calendar. It begins when a new moon is sighted in the sky. After morning celebrations, worshipers return home and continue the festivities with their families, neighbors and friends.

Baby Loup affair pushes question of religion at workplace into centre

October 22, 2013

The Baby Loup affair surrounding the question of wearing religious symbols in general and the hijab in particular in a nursery returned to the media when the French Court of Appeal opposed the Supreme Court’s decision on calling the termination of a French Muslim woman’s work contract in a nursery unlawful. The legal battle will most likely continue and will bring the question of religion at workplace to the forefront of the debate.
Le Monde:

http://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2013/10/22/l-entreprise-n-echappe-pas-a-la-politisation-du-religieux_3500730_3232.html?xtmc=musulman&xtcr=11

http://www.lemonde.fr/societe/article/2013/10/16/affaire-baby-loup-la-cour-d-appel-de-paris-entre-en-rebellion-contre-la-cour-de-cassation_3496539_3224.html

Suicide attack of French Muslim in Syria

Liberation

A French Muslim killed himself in a suicide against the Syrian regime in Al-Hamam, a small village southwest of Aleppo, on Wednesday, according to the NGO Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH). The man in his 20s, named as “Abou- al-Qaaqaa” killed 10 soldiers in the attack by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) group.

Conversions to Islam aren’t a new phenomena

22.08.2013

Liberation

Following the riots in Trappes and the death of a French Muslim jihadist in Syria, the question of Muslim converts who are commonly associated with religious radicalism in mainstream media has been brought back to the forefront of the French media landscape. The research director of the CNRS France and expert in Islam, Franck Frégosi, was interviewed in a recent issue of the French daily Liberation to discuss the history of Muslim conversions in the West.

In the interview Frégosi explains that there have been conversions to Islam in the West ever since Islam came to exist. The means of conversions differed and were as plural as the types of Islam that were adhered by its devotees. He critiques that the media today acts reductively by solely being interested in the conversion of people to a fringe fraction of Islam, namely the kind that interprets Islam literally from the readings of the Quran.

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

The quest for French educated imams

Liberation

07.05.2013

As so often declared by the French Government, the recent Secretary of State, Maneul Valls, wants to see more imams educated in France in mosques all over the country. He has made it one of his priority tasks to forward the cause and instructed a study conducted by the Ministry of Higher Education and Research on the subject, which is ought to be published in September.

Today, the majority of France’s ca. 1800 imams is still educated in the countries of origin of the diverse French Muslim community, despite that a large segment of France’s Muslims represents the second or third generation of immigrants. One of the greatest obstacles for the attraction of French educated imams is the lack of funding assigned to the job in the country. As most financial assets of the community are diverted to the construction of mosques and other facilities, the majority of imams need to be recruited from abroad based on lower salary expectations. France’s imams are in their majority sent from Algeria, Turkey, Morocco and other countries to teach no more than 4 years in the country while remaining to be regulated and under the control of their countries of origin.

The French Council for the Muslim Religion (CFCM) has for long championed the cause of recruiting French educated imams, but has failed to advance the cause. The internal politics of the larger French Muslim organisations, who prefer to hold sway over who is in power of teaching and influence the Muslim community, has further made it difficult to make progress. While the Union of Muslim organisations in France (UOIF) and the Grand Mosque of Paris have set up training centres for imams, it is unclear what happened to the many French trained students of the imam centres. Most are believed to have visited the centres to learn Arabic or learn Islamic sciences, prior to unsuccessfully enrolling to greater Muslim centres of theological teaching such as Medina or Cairo

Annual French Muslim event adjusts its speaker list

28.03.2013

Union of French Islamic Organisation

Following a controversy, this year’s conference by the Union of French Islamic Organisations in Bourget (Seine St-Denis) refrained from inviting the Egyptian celebrity preacher Yousself al-Qaradawi who is closely associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. The appeasement politics played by the organizers follows last year’s French Presidential election campaign during which the event became the spotlight for the polemics of French security and identity politics. This year’s speakers list was accordingly altered and toned down in order to prevent potential controversy.

The event, which is comparable to the World Catholic Youth Day, covered the Easter bank holidays and was attended on its opening day alone by over 160.000 people.