News Agencies – February 9, 2012
Mohammed Moussaoui, head of the CFCM (French Council of the Muslim Faith) says the debate on Interior Minister Claude Guéant’s comments that ‘not all civilizations are equal’ is closed. Moussaoui says the controversy serves no one, and they are not interested in propogating it. The CFCM wrote to Guéant asking him to reassure Muslims that his speech was not referring to Muslim civilization. Moussaoui wrote that many French Muslims felt targeted by these statements and had turned to the CFCM about it.
Guéant answered that he was not speaking about any culture in particular, nor of fellow Muslim citizens who respect and completely adhere to the values of the Republic. Guéant added that he has no doubt that the CFCM shares the same values and the need to denounce, without ambiguity, systems and practices which are contrary to French fundamental principles, which allow each and every one to express themselves and live in freedom, equality and fraternity.
News Agencies – August 30, 2011
In waiting for the construction of the Institut des cultures d’islam (ICI or Institute of Islamic Cultures) that should be partially complete by January 2013, practicing Muslims in Paris’ 18th district continue to pray in the streets. This practice has engendered great debate. National Front leader Marine Le Pen has called these gatherings an “occupation” while Interior Minister Claude Guéant has sought to move the prayers to empty barracks in Clingancourt (which could accommodate 2,700 people) starting September 16th.
However, not everyone is in agreement about this plan, including imams at two mosques in Barbès where outdoor prayer takes place.
News Agencies – August 8, 2011
Muslims who have been praying in the streets of a Paris neighbourhood have been offered a disused barracks to pray in, French Interior Minister Claude Guéant has announced. Muslim leaders have visited the site and agreed that it is suitable, he said. “Praying in the street is something that is not acceptable,” Guéant said, insisting that it is contrary to the French state’s secular principles. “It has to stop.”
Muslims have been praying in public in two streets in Paris’s 18th arrondissement – rues Myrha and Polonceau – for some time because the local mosques are not big enough. The practice prompted an attempt, backed by far-right, Islamophobic groups, to organise a sausage and wine street party, which was banned by city authorities but spawned copycat events elsewhere. Front National leader Marine le Pen revived the controversy last December when she compared it to the German occupation in World War II.
French Muslim leaders have visited a former barracks in the same arrondissement and agreed that it is appropriate, according to Guéant, who says that it will be ready for use on 16 September.
News Agencies – May 5, 2011
France’s burqa ban has seen 27 offences recorded since it was brought into force in April 2011. The law bans people from covering their faces in public spaces, effectively outlawing the burqa and niqab. The country’s Interior Ministry says on average one or two women a day have been given verbal cautions since the ban began on April 11.
Minister Claude Guéant said, “A lot of people were worried about this. They said the law was inapplicable. In fact, the people stopped have complied and have generally been given a verbal warning.” The most recent fine, added Guéant, went to an American at Charles de Gaulle airport. Having returned from Saudi-Arabia she initially complied with the request to remove the veil, but was fined after putting it back on in the airport. The maximum fine for breaking the law is €150 and or a course on citizenship.