The Algerian dominated Great Mosque of Paris (GMP) quit a meeting of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) which was about to endorse the appointment of its director, Dalil Boubaker, as President of the Council.
The spokesperson of the GMP explained that “we left the meeting of the Board because we realized that there was a strategic alliance between Moroccans and Turks against the Great Mosque of Paris, challenging an agreement that we signed yesterday to exit the impasse to which the CFCM was heading to”.
As the crisis loomed, the GMP agreed to withdraw its candidate for the presidency of the CFCM, Chems Eddine Hafiz, disputed by other federations, especially the Morrocan led Rally of French Muslim (RMF).The RMF challenged the candidacy of Hafiz who acts as the lawyer of the Polisario Front, which is fighting for the independence of Western Sahara, annexed by the Rabat government in 1975. Instead of Mr. Hafiz, the GMP was eventually offered to name its director, Boubakeur, as the President of the CFCM. Boubakeur had at first refused to take the presidency of the CFCM, which witnessed a landslide election win by the RMF in the elections for its regional councils on June 8. The pro-Morocco group dominated with 25 seats, against 8 seats for the Algerians and 7 for the Turks.
The CFCM was established in 2003 to provide the several million strong Muslim population of France a representative body.
The much anticipated election of the French Council on the Muslim Faith (CFCM) and the French Regional Council of the Muslim Faith (CRCM) took place this Saturday with great public participation. Despite a widespread boycott call of the Union of Islamic Organisations of France (UOIF), the election was a success with 76% of the registered voter coming to the polls. Almost 2600 members of French organisations all over France came to vote including some regional members of the UOIF in Alsace and Aquitaine, who disregarded the boycott of their national organisation.
The dispute between the three main organisations that make up the CFCM and CRCM, namely the Grand Mosque of Paris (GMP, under French-Algerian influence), Muslim Assembly of France (RMF, under French-Moroccan leadership) and the Union of Islamic Organisations of France (UOIF, under the Muslim Brotherhood influence), electrified the French Muslim umbrella organisation over months leading to a crisis which undermined the reputation, credibility and position of the CFCM and CRCM. For more than two years the RMF led the organisation after the UOIF and GMP boycotted the 2011 election. In order to overcome the issues between the groups, a controversial reform of the leadership of the organisation was adopted in February, which introduced a greater power sharing mechanisms between the three.
First estimations indicate that the RMF will take over a dozen regional organisation bodies while the GMP will lead between six or eight. The UOIF which boycotted the election will retain only 2 seats out of 44.
Vitre Ma Ville
In an interview with the President of the Regional Council of the Muslim Cult in Bretagne (CRCM), Mustafa Aslan, he expresses how the recent reforms made by the national chapter of the French Council for the Muslim Cult (CFCM) are rejected by a number of local chapters. The reforms do, according to Aslan, present an unjust representation of the Muslim community in France. Accordingly, 50% of the administration of the council is appointed by the federation without reforms, which possibly negatively impacts the regional member representation and participation. Regional members will be marginalized despite holding long lasting mandates that were determined prior to the reforms voted on in the general assembly in February. The marginalization of regional representatives is accused to function in favour of those, who are closely associated with the larger urban organisations.
The reforms were past on February 23rd in the general assembly of the CFCM, which consists of a three party alliance made up between the Grand Mosque of Paris, the RMF and UOIF.
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.
The pro-Moroccan Rally of French Muslims (RMF) has won the regional elections of the CFCM (the French Council of Muslim Faith.) with a 62% majority. 3,631 delegates representing 700 mosques and places of worship participated. This new board will choose a new leader on 19 June 2011. Controversy has plagued the election process as many claim the voting procedures are not representative.
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.
Two hundred imams gathered for the second annual RMF (Rassemblement des musulmans de France) colloquium June 5th and 6th. Presiding over the conference, Anouar Kbibech noted that, “Imams must get to know each other better and that we raise the difficulties they encounter on the ground,” including questions related to ritual slaughtering, the burqa and niqab, the organization of funerals and homophobia.
CFCM president and vice-president of the RMF, Mohammed Moussaoui noted that these subjects were also difficult to address when only approximately one-third of French imams speak French with ease, and few among the second generation of French Muslims speak Arabic. Another issue is that only approximately 20% of them are employed full-time by their mosque or from their country of origin, making only minimum wage.
The Rally of French Muslims (RMF) swept the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) polls, with 43.4 percent of the votes (or 20 of 41 seats) cast on June 8. The Moroccan-backed RMF group ended years of domination by Algerian-backed groups. 4,862 delegates representing 1,039 mosques voted to elect members of the CFCM’s general assembly and regional offices. The system allocates delegates according to the size of mosques, with one delegate for each 100m2. The Union of French Islamic Organizations (UOIF) came second with 30.2 percent of the vote (12 seats). The elections created tensions inside the CFCM between Algerian and Moroccan-affiliated groups. The Paris Grand Mosque, itself Algerian-backed, boycotted the vote, accusing the Moroccan consulate of allocating 50,000 Euros to each of the 25 areas to boost the RMF’s chances of winning the elections. The new general assembly will vote on Sunday June 22 to elect an 11-member executive, which will elect a president. Paris Grand Mosque’s rector Dalil Boubakeur has served for two terms as president. The CFCM was created in 2003 with support of then-Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy as the official representative body of France’s Muslim population.
The moderate Organization of French Muslims (RMF), presented “the warmest congratulation to Nicolas Sarkozy, inviting a new era of civil peace and of mutual respect between the different groups composing the French nation.
PARIS – French Muslims on Sunday created a new representative group aimed at “complementing” an existing state-sponsored umbrella organisation that has been stalled by infighting. The Rally of Muslims in France (RMF) held a gathering in Paris of 200 heads of mosques and associations to establish itself as an alternative to the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) set up by Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy in 2003. In a statement, the RMF said it wanted to “contribute to the emergence of moderate Islam” that would respect French laws while lobbying on behalf of the country’s estimated five million Muslims. The group is led by Taoufiq Sebti, the president of a regional Muslim group covering the Paris area. The head of another Paris Muslim group also participating, Anouar Kbibech, stressed that the RMF intended to be “complementary, and not a rival, to the CFCM”. The CFCM has been riven by power struggles since its inception. Its president, Dalil Boubakeur, who is rector of the mosque in Paris, said an overdue board meeting of the organisation has again been pushed back, this time to early July. Boubakeur explained that CFCM members agreed to the additional delay at the request of the office of President Jacques Chirac, who next Sunday is to inaugurate a memorial to Muslim soliders who fought for France in World War I.