A leader in the French Council of the Muslim Faith, Mohammed Moussaoui, hoped for a “gesture of appeasement’ from the President of the CRIF, whose comments about young Muslims and anti-Semitism have caused controversy. In a recent interview Roger Cukierman stated that all anti-Semitic violence was committed by “young Muslims,” which caused the CFCM to boycott the annual dinner. “Dialogue never ceased with the CRIF as an organization,” declared the CFCM’s President Dalil Boubakeur. “The two communities are mature enough to find common ground and to overcome any disquiet which was created by these unacceptable remarks.”
“I think it’s necessary for him to make a gesture, appeasing remarks, which would allow for dialogue,” said Mr. Moussaoui. He denounced “all extremism, no matter what type it is,” and condemned “terrorism which claims to be Islam,” deploring amalgamations between extremism and Islam.
Following the January attacks Prime Minister Valls invited Muslim representatives to take part in the fight against terror. “Taking responsibility is to ensure that there is a debate within Islam,” he stated. “It’s what we ask of the main majority of our Muslim compatriots who can no longer be confused with this terror.”
January 27, 2014
In nominating the new board of the Comité Consultatif National d’Ethique (CCNE) or National Advisory Council on Ethics in September 2013, President Francois Hollande chose not to include any religious leaders, and replaced them with secular figures.
This Council, created in 1983, is in charge of providing advisory guidelines on bioethical questions raised by medical, scientific and health research. The CCNE may have an advisory purpose but remains nonetheless influential. Under its influence, the abortion limit went from 10 to 12 weeks in 2000. The Council opposed medically assisted reproduction in 2005, surrogate motherhood in 2010, and assisted suicide by euthanasia in 2013.
The 1983 founding decree states that the interdisciplinary board must be composed of forty members including ‘five belonging to the main philosophical and spiritual families’. Until 2013, two clerics had been chairing: Pastor Louis Schweitzer and Rabbi Michael Azoulay. Islam wasn’t represented by an Imam but by a Muslim thinker, Ali Benmakhlouf. Likewise, Catholicism wasn’t represented by an ecclesial figure but by a professor of theology, Xavier Lacroix. All four have now been replaced with more secular figures.
In theory, Francois Hollande respected the founding decree, which implied that the five religious board members could be secular but not necessarily clerics. However, the President changed a tradition. ‘We want to return to the founding principals of the Council in 1983, and to call on secular figures to represent the religious communities’, said the Elysée.
According to a former president of the CCNE, ‘nominating civilian figures over clerics is a good thing, because they always end up deploying religion in the debates.’ Mohammed Moussaoui, former president of the CFCM (Conseil Francais du Culte Musulman) deplores the eviction of Rabbi Azoulay and the other religious members. To him, it reflects Hollande’s changing vision of state secularism.
Le Monde – June 1, 2012
This Le Monde article charts how a number of alliances and fractures are unfolding as French Muslim organizations critique the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) for its lack of representativity. In fact, it is the two initial founders of the CFCM who, having boycotted the 2011 elections, are calling for reform. A number of groups are also critical of CFCM president Mohammed Moussaoui, claiming he has not suitably reformed the organization to better include women and young people.
News Agencies – March 22, 2012
French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen says her anti-Islam agenda has been vindicated: A French Muslim claiming ties to Al Qaeda has taken responsibility for the country’s worst killing spree in years. The spectre of radical Islam’s grip on France has threatened to overturn France’s presidential race, in which Socialist Francois Hollande has long been the pollster’s favourite to unseat the divisive conservative president, Nicolas Sarkozy. Le Pen, the No. 3 candidate in polls, said France must “wipe out” the Islamist threat, saying it has been minimized by authorities. Sarkozy has borrowed from Le Pen’s playbook in campaigning for the presidential election on April 22 and its expected runoff May 6, with talk of halving immigration and lamenting widespread availability of halal meat.
A poll released Thursday suggested that Sarkozy may benefit politically from the horror of recent days. The survey by CSA suggested Sarkozy would slightly dominate the first round of voting in April but lose to Hollande in the May runoff by 36 per cent to 45 per cent. That was the smallest spread yet and the highest score for Sarkozy so far for polls by CSA in this campaign.
Support for Le Pen was notably down. The poll was conducted Monday and Tuesday, after a rabbi and three children were shot dead at a Jewish school but before details about the suspect Merah emerged. A total of 1,003 people were questioned by telephone.
Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the CFCM, an umbrella group for French Muslims, said what the suspect has done “is the very negation of … Islam.” The powerful Muslim organization UOIF asked all citizens “not to succumb to the panic of stigmatizing Muslims, which feeds Islamophobia.” In the case of Le Pen, it may already be too late. “We have underestimated, I think, the rise of radical Islam in our country,” Le Pen said. “We didn’t want to see it, out of weakness or for electoral reasons, that recruiting is going on in our neighbourhoods by political-religious groups.”
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 – November 2, 2011
Politicians and Muslim leaders have denounced a firebomb attack that destroyed the offices of a satirical French newspaper after it “invited” the Prophet Mohammed as its guest editor. No one was injured in the fire at Charlie Hebdo weekly in eastern Paris, hours before the current issue hit the news-stands. The front-page of the weekly, subtitled “Sharia Hebdo,” a reference to Islamic law, showed a cartoon-like man with a turban, white robe and beard smiling broadly and saying, in an accompanying bubble, “100 lashes if you don’t die laughing.”
Mohammed Moussaoui, head of the French Council for the Muslim Faith, said his organisation deplored “the very mocking tone of the paper toward Islam and its prophet but reaffirms with force its total opposition to all acts and all forms of violence.” Dalil Boubakeur, who heads the Great Mosque of Paris, condemned “an act which can in no way represent the principles of liberty, tolerance and peace that are (our) message.” But he regretted the “anxious European climate of Islamophobia” fed in part by stigmatising Muslims through caricatures.
News Agencies – August 2, 2011
According to the president of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, Mohammed Moussaoui, 100-150 mosques are currently being built in France. Moussaoui said that most are financed by the worshipers and very few from abroad. French Interior Minister, Claude Guéant, has said that in the past decade the number of mosques increased from 1000 to 2000 in the French territory.
According to Moussaoui, 17-23% of French Muslims go to Friday prayers, which he says distinguishes between the practicing and non-practicing Muslims. He repeated that prayers in the streets were outrageous, but stemmed from lack of places in mosques. Guéant wants to stop Friday prayers in the streets. According to a senior official, there are 17 mosques in Paris, all filled up, and they can’t accommodate more than 13,000 people, which is insufficient.
News Agencies – June 19, 2011
As expected, 47 year-old Franco-Moroccan Mohammed Moussaoui was reelected as the president of the CFCM (the French Council of the Muslim Faith. The 58 elected members of the executive council – themselves elected in different French regions on 5 June – united in Paris to elect the president and the executive office. The elections have been mired in controversy with the boycott of the GMP (Mosque of Paris) and the UOIF (Union of Islamic Organizations of France. The CFCM was created in 2003 as governmental interlocutor on questions related to Islam.
News Agencies – June 17, 2011
As the Council Election for the CFCM (French Council of the Muslim Faith) approaches on 19 June, the organisation meant to represent Islam here is torn apart by rivalries, boycotts and bitter attacks. It appears that incumbent Mohammed Moussaoui will be returned as head of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), but a boycott by the two rival Muslim federations competing with his Rally of French Muslims (RMF) group makes the victory a hollow one.
The campaign has also fuelled the ethnic tensions crippling French Islam, which is split among factions backed by Algeria, Morocco and Turkey and others who oppose any meddling from the Muslim countries that they left behind. The voting method used, which allocates electoral college delegates to each federation according to the total floor space of its mosques around the country, was the reason Moussaoui’s rivals gave for the boycott. The broader reason for the boycott is that French Muslims of Moroccan origin, although fewer than those with an Algerian background, are generally more devout and — with encouragement from Rabat and Moussaoui’s RMF — are building more mosques.
News Agencies – May 25, 2011
The RMF (Rassemblement des Musulmans de France or Assembly of French Muslims) renewed their confidence in unanimously selecting Mohammed Moussaoui as their representative to stand as president of the CFCM (French Council of the Muslim Faith) in upcoming elections on June 5th and 19th.