Valls: France needs ‘new relationship with Islam’

Prime Minister Valls said France, which is home to around five million Muslims, needs to forge a new rapport with Islam.

“We need to reset and invent a new relationship with Islam in France,” Valls said.

The PM has long wanted to help nurture a more French version of Islam, without extremists elements and said in Friday he was in favor of a ban on foreign funding of mosques.

He also wants imams to be trained in France rather than abroad.

The PM has warned in the past that Salafists were “winning the ideological and cultural battle” in France, home of Europe’s biggest Muslim population.

And he has pledged to “massively” increase France’s security and defense budgets in the coming years, as the country grapples with a growing jihadist threat after two deadly attacks last year.

“The Salafists must represent one percent of the Muslims in our country today, but their message — their messages on social networks — is the only one we end up hearing,” he said.

France has long had an uneasy relationship with Islam, even before recent jihadist killings in Paris, Nice and Rouen. While the French public and politicians broadly supported the two laws opponents argued it would only work to stigmatize and alienate the country’s Muslim community even further.

It is not clear what the PM is thinking of when it comes to this “new relationship” but in the past he has expressed extending the ban on religious signs to universities.

“The veil does not represent a fashion fad, no, it’s not a colour one wears, no: it is enslavement of women,” he said, warning of the “ideological message that can spread behind religious symbols”.

“We have to make a distinction between wearing the veil as a scarf for older women, and it as a political gesture confronting French society.”

However members of his own government including the education minister and university bodies do not believe there is a need to extend the law.

French Sociologist and director of the Religious Observatory in France doubted Valls had any clear idea of what he meant by “new relationship” but that it was a mistake to suggest this was the source of terrorism.

“I doubt he has a clear idea in his head, but he needs to separate the issues,” said Liogier who has criticized Valls in the past for “showing a complete ignorance of all the multiple dynamics that play a role in Muslim communities today.”

“Let’s stop talking about Muslim “communitarianism” being the source of terrorism. A man with a beard or a woman wearing the veil are other issues, they are not the problem of terrorism.”


Mali: Chief of Ansar Dine again threatens France

After more than a year of silence, the leader of the group Ansar Dine, expelled from Northern Mali after a French intervention, marked its return with a video calling for its followers to fight France and its allies. “We are calling on our courageous Muslim people, outraged by the French and their allies, to stand up to this historical enemy and the occupier which hates Islam and Muslims” declared Iyad Ag Ghaly.

The 23 minute 59 second long video, which is neither dated nor given a location, is interspersed with news stories demonstrating France’s economic interests in Africa. Iyad Ag Ghaly is sitting before the Jihadist black flag with the inscription “Mohammad prophet of God.”

The former Malian Tuareg rebel, who has not been seen since the beginning of the French intervention in January 2013, blamed the “Crusading West” for having “reigned in the Malian army” and accused it of perpetrating violence against populations in the north of Mali. “We are ready to unite with our brotherly fighters on Malian territory to deal with the…global infidels who are united to fight Islam in our territory” he said. Iyad Ag Ghaly also addressed fighters “from all the territories of jihad.”

The deputy spokesman for the Minister of Foreign Affairs Vincent Floreani highlighted that “The usual checks are necessary….Together with its partners in the Sahel, France remains mobilized in its struggle against terrorism, in support of the leaders of Mali and of countries in the region.”

Ansar Dine, Aqmi and a third group, Mujao, controlled the north of Mali for almost ten months before they were expelled by the French army. Iyad Ag Ghaly, an ex Tuareg rebel in the 1990s, is from the region of Kidal in the north of Mali.