February 16, 2014
Hassen Chalghoumi, the President of the Conference of Imans of France and President of the Muslim Association of Drancy was the guest speaker on the Talk Orange-Le Figaro show on February 11th. The main themes were the nature of French Islam and French Muslims going to fight in Syria.
Chalghoumi began by saying he doesn’t like the word ‘Islamophobia’ when discussing discrimination in France, but prefers to say there is ‘racism’ and ‘anti-Muslim sentiment.’ When asked about the challenges facing the creation of a ‘French Islam’, Chalghoumi replied that Muslims have an ‘Islam in France’ and not yet an ‘Islam of France.’ Critical of associations like the CFCM (Conseil Francais de Culte Musulman), Chalghoumi claimed Muslims in France have yet to establish a representative body that is neutral, independent and not under foreign management and influence. As for the CFCM, Chalghoumi concluded they haven’t focused on doing anything effective for the youth and lack the tools for doing so.
Some of the immediate problems facing the community include a suitable training program for French Imams. It would be important to educate Imans nationally instead of letting it be done by Qatar. Other topics that haven’t been sufficiently dealt with include properly managing the halal meat system and the pilgrimage to Mecca.
Referring to the government’s Integration Report released in December 2013, Chalghoumi declared he was for the push to teach Arabic in schools, since Arabic is not just a sacred language but an important business language. ‘France needs to open up to the world’ and teaching Arabic as a means to work abroad would be a good thing.
According to Chalghoumi, integration policy has been disappointing in France since there is no real mixture or diversity. Instead, separate ghettos are created and even elementary schools feel segregated with some schools having only African and Arab students.
If France did have a French Islam, then society wouldn’t have the problem of extremism. According to Chalghoumi’s estimate, there is a minimum of 700 French citizens fighting in Syria, including minors. Their profile is that they’re lost, desperate, ignorant of their religion and drawn into jihad via internet sites. Chalghoumi deplored the state of radicalization in the suburbs and said this has been a longstanding problem that he has already tried to address. When guiding families with a youth at risk, he tells them Syria is not an Islamic nor holy war, but an internal matter. Chalghoumi warns that these young fighters are today the enemies of Syria, and tomorrow the enemies of France.
Source (Video): http://video.lefigaro.fr/figaro/video/hassen-chalghoumi-on-n-a-pas-fait-un-islam-de-france/3215081510001/