Union of French Mosques condemns London attack

The Union of French Mosques strongly condemns the attack carried out in London on June 3, 2017, leaving seven victims and 50 wounded, of which four were French. Among those hurt, 21, including one Frenchman, are in critical condition. The UMF extends its sincerest condolences to the victims’ families and hopes for a swift recovery for those wounded and reaffirms its support for and solidarity with the British people who have faced these last months, with courage and dignity, against a despicable and cowardly terrorist fury.

Immersed in enormous suffering as a result of these crimes, France’s Muslims cannot find enough strong expressions to denounce the betrayal of their religion by criminal organizations that claim to act in their name. Faced with this suffering, the UMF calls on France’s Muslims to carry on their struggle, by all legal means, against extremists and followers of hate and violence.

The UMF calls on French Muslims to keep the victims of terrorism in their thoughts and to intensify their prayers, during this sacred month of Ramadan, for Peace in the World.

Paris, June 4, 2017

 

‘Halal days’ for French Muslims

The fourth annual “halal days” were held May 18-21 and took place in schools, associations, and other Muslim organizations. The event aimed to “raise awareness about the importance of eating halal and eating well.”

Participating organizations agreed to open their doors to the public to better understand “the foundations of halal food, its culture, and its characteristics, as well as the processes used by all to guarantee that products are halal compliant.” Last year, 1,250 people signed up for the events.

“It was mostly attacks by the National Front on the halal market in 2014 that made us think of this event, to create a zone conducive to debate,” explained Lynda Ayadi, the director of the marketing company Heaven Strategy which organizes the “halal days.”

“We felt a strong demand from the Muslim community to provide perspective and information on the halal market,” she added. “More recently, this feeling was reinforced following the polemic sparked by the animal protection association L214’s video of French slaughterhouses, which they blamed for animal suffering.”

Ayadi insisted that the event’s goal was not to “spread propaganda,” and invited those who oppose halal “to come and participate in the debates.”

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.

 

Democratic Union for French Muslims receives only three sponsorships

Kamel Messaoudi, candidate for the Democratic Union for French Muslims in the upcoming presidential elections, received three elected sponsorships according to the latest official figures. The number falls far below the 500 sponsorships necessary to validate his candidacy, he thus officially fails to take part in the elections.

“In a time of the ‘battle against the burkini’, amidst proposals of banning the veil in universities or public places, our social rights are being sacrificed,” he stated. “While political actors have worked to create categories of citizens, we campaign to strengthen our country by enhancing its richness, which is based in all of its citizens, without distinguishing among them.”

 

 

Conseil Français du Culte Musulman (CFCM ) will interview presidential candidates on secularism and discrimination

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.

 

Union of Islamic Organizations of France (UOIF) changes its name

The UOIF, which is frequently portrayed negatively in the media, has changed its name. During a general assembly held in late February, the organization voted to replace the name it has had since 1983 to “Muslims of France”.

The name won out over others such as “Union of French Muslims” and “National Union of French Muslims”.

Fillon wants French Muslims to express their ‘anger’

François Fillon wants to see a “cry of anger against extremists” he said during a visit to the Saint-Denis mosque in Reunion.

He wants to see “the same French citizens of the Muslim faith give a cry of anger and protest against extremists, not only against terrorists,” but “against those who have deformed Islam’s message and who call for division from within the Muslim community.”

“I will not allow those who contradict the values of the Republic…the Republic has the right to defend itself against those who call for its destruction,” he insisted.

“If coexistence between religions is exemplary in Reunion, it’s not the same case throughout the country,” he said during the visit.

He also wished that “we had a CFCM that would be more of a religious authority. I don’t think that we need an organization for the Muslim faith in France that is political.”

 

 

 

One year after attacks, French Muslims speak

One year after the November 2015 Paris attacks Le Monde published a collection of thoughts and commentaries from France’s Muslims. Glimpses into their lives reveal anxiety, sadness, hope and defiance, among other sentiments.

“I felt like half of a citizen,” said Tahar Mouci, who owns a bar in the 20th arrondissement.

“The Monday following the attacks I found out that I was assigned to house arrest under the State of Emergency,” recalls Anis M., a truck driver from Nice.

“I decided to enlist in the Army Reserves,” said Habiba M., while Louiza A. remembers her professor pointing to her veil and asking “what’s that for?” following the November 2015 attacks.

Click here to read the complete article.

One-in-four French Muslims follow ‘hardline’ Islam

A study showing that more than a quarter of French Muslims follow hardline Islam is causing discomfort for the political class, which is united in ignoring its conclusions.

Among the survey’s findings are that 28 percent of Muslims questioned follow an “authoritarian” interpretation of texts advocating a break with French society; or that more than 40 percent of young Muslims (aged 15-25) consider Islamic Sharia law more important than the secular law of France.

“They (young French Muslims) feel rejected,” Hakim El Karoui, who co-authored the report for the Institut Montaigne think tank said. “French society is sending them the message: you are not French. In a way they are getting revenge by hanging on to the identity they have.”

The embrace of hardline Islam was strongest among young Muslims who lacked jobs or strong qualifications, added El Karoui. Overall, a plurality of French Muslims — 46 percent — considered the practice of their religion totally compatible with local rules and customs.

The study should be causing waves. It’s the first major snapshot of how French Muslims view their own beliefs to be published in France, and it comes after a wave of Islamist-inspired terrorist attacks.

And yet, public reaction to the study is partial, and strained.

Robert Ménard, a far-right mayor known for his provocative positions, tweeted a link to the report, followed by the question: “Is a confrontation [with Islam] inevitable?”

Left-wing magazine Télérama took a sarcastic stance, calling the findings “unsurprising” and criticizing the study’s methodology.

“For the time being it’s total silence from the administration,” Fanny Anor, one of the study’s co-authors, said. “What we are trying to do is create data that allows us to analyze these questions based on solid evidence, so we can avoid debating purely on impressions.”

“But that’s a very uncomfortable position for the government,” she added.

While Prime Minister Manuel Valls has repeatedly voiced alarm over the spread of “political Islam” in France, the Montaigne study shows where it’s coming from: young Muslims who lack jobs and professional skills, and feel as though the French state has turned its back on them.

To rekindle faith in the French system, the study’s authors argue, France should bring the alienated population into the workforce by overriding hiring discrimination through the use of ethnic and religious statistics.

“They [politicians] feel trapped,” added Anor. “After the terrorist attacks, it’s an awkward camp to be in, arguing for measures to fight discrimination.”

 

French Muslim intellectuals critique current organization of Islam in France

“Following the killings of cartoonists, after the murders of young people listening to music, after the assassination of a police couple, after the murders of children, women, and men assisting at the celebration of the fete nationale, and today the murder of a priest conducting mass…There is horror, still more horror and a clear commitment to pit Frenchmen against one another. To destroy the national harmony which still stands. We Muslims were silent because we learned that in France religion is a private affair. We must now speak out because Islam has become a public affair and the current situation can no longer be tolerated.

As Muslims, of faith or culture, we are concerned by the powerlessness of the current Muslim organization of France, which has no control over events. Despite the efforts of those engaged, French Islam is badly managed by the representatives of countries where many French Muslims originate. This organization likely made sense when Muslims were immigrants. Today, the Muslims of France are 75% French. The majority is young, very young. Many among them are the prey not only of ideologues of radical Islam but also of political Islam. The traditional representatives no longer understand simply because they no longer know them.

So, it is necessary to change generations, with a clearly organized project: provide sustainable sources of financing and ensure transparent and open mosques, train and employ imams, engage in historical, anthropological, and theological endeavors which allow and will allow more people to be French and Muslim in the secular Republic. And finally, to lead the cultural battle against radical Islamism which concerns younger and younger youths, with the most modern means and techniques drawing on the most effective ideas and information. We must act as Muslims.

But also as Frenchmen. We must respond to French society’s questions, which ask us: ‘But who are you? What are you doing?’

Certainly this question is paradoxical: we have learned to make religion a private affair. Then why speak as Muslims? Because the risk of fracture becomes more pressing every day. So, before it is too late, before violence pits one against the other—this is Daech’s objective—we must act and assume responsibility. And we must move beyond the paradox: ‘Rid yourselves of difference; condemn because you are different.’ Through hard work and self-denial but also because the Republic has done its work, we have, as other citizens have as well, taken our place in French society. And today, this generation is ready to assume its responsibilities, notably the organization of French Islam.

A Foundation for French Islam was created more than ten years ago. It never functioned. It is time to reactivate it, to give it the ability to collect resources. The French of Muslim faith are ready to re-launch it, to give it life, to contribute to its financing. This foundation, at the national level as well as the regional level, could be the institution that will allow for the organization of French Islam. Beyond that, it is a pursuit of perspective, of social and cultural action, which we are ready to harness.

As Frenchmen, as well as Muslims. Because France needs it.”

The signatories: Kaci Ait Yala, chef d’entreprise ; Najoua El Atfani, cadre entreprise BTP, administratice club XXIe siècle ; Rahmene Azzouzi, chef du service urologie, CHU d’Angers ; Linda Belaidi, dirigeante EASI (European Agency for Strategic Intelligence) ; Tayeb Belmihoub, auteur, comédien ; Sadek Beloucif, chef du service anesthésie réanimation, hôpital Avicenne, ex-membre du Comité national d’éthique ; Amine Benyamina, professeur de psychiatrie et d’addictologie ; Nadia Bey, journaliste ; Abdennour Bidar, philosophe, inspecteur général de l’éducation nationale ; Antar Boudiaf ; Hamou Bouakkaz, conseiller d’arrondissement, ancien adjoint au maire de Paris ; Marc Chebsun, auteur, éditorialiste ; Abdelnor Chehlaoui, banquier d’affaires ; Fatiha Gas, directrice d’un établissement d’enseignement supérieur ; Mohamed Ghannem, chef du service cardiologie, Fondation Léopold-Bellan ; M’jid El Guerrab, ancien conseiller du président du Sénat ; Kamel Haddar, entrepreneur (éducation et média) ; Abderrahim Hafidi, universitaire, islamologue ; Sofiène Haj Taieb, DG Finances, fonds d’investissement ; Khalid Hamdani, chef d’entreprise, membre du Cese ; Majid Si Hocine, médecin ; Mehdi Houas, président Talan (conseil informatique), ancien ministre ; Elyès Jouini, professeur d’université, vice-président d’université, ancien ministre ; Hakim El Karoui, ancien conseiller du Premier ministre, chef d’entreprise ; Bariza Khiari, sénatrice de Paris ; Saadallah Khiari, cinéaste, auteur ; Shiraz Latiri, cadre, société d’assurance ; Kamel Maouche, avocat au barreau de Paris ; Kaouthar Mehrez, ingénieur ; Malika Menner, directeur des Relations externes d’un grand groupe télécom ; Louisa Mezreb, PDG Facem management ; Naima M’Faddel, adjointe au maire de Dreux, chargée de l’action sociale ; Pap’Amadou Ngom, PDG Des systèmes et des hommes ; Bouchra Rejani, directrice générale d’une société de production audiovisuelle ; Mahamadou Lamine Sagna, sociologue, chercheur à Paris-VII ; Nadir Saïfi, juriste ; Yasmine Seghirate, responsable de la communication pour une organisation internationale ; Mohsen Souissi, ingénieur ; François-Aïssa Touazi, fondateur CAPmena, ancien conseiller du ministère des Affaires étrangères ; Farid Yaker, président forum France Algérie ; Faiez Zannad, professeur de thérapeutique-­cardiologie, CHU Nancy, université de Lorraine.