News Agencies – May 31, 2012
While formally estranged, on May 29, 2012, representatives from the l’Union des Organisations Islamiques de France (UOIF) and the Grande Mosquée de Paris met over a friendly lunch to discuss the situation of Islam in France, particularly focused on the representation of the tradition through the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM). The two groups have historically had their differences but appear to have put aside their differences to discuss this point. The UOIF boycotted the most recent CFCM elections on grounds that the group is too fractioned and not representational.
News Agencies – April 5, 2012
President Nicolas Sarkozy has been accused of exploiting public fears about Islamist violence in France by ordering a wave of arrests of suspected radicals across the country in a desperate electoral ploy. The country’s biggest annual gathering of French Muslims begins on the outskirts of Paris with what one hostile newspaper called a “virulent” and highly politicised message from the president ringing in delegates’ ears.
Mr Sarkozy said in a letter to Ahmed Jaballah, president of the Union of Islamic Organisations (UOIF), he would not tolerate support being expressed at a public meeting on French soil for “violence, hatred [and] anti-Semitism, which constitute unbearable attacks that run counter to human dignity and republican principles”.
The left-of-centre daily newspaper Libération offered its judgement of the letter’s contents in five pages of coverage of rising tensions and political maneuvering headed “Sarkozy and Islam: dangerous liaisons.”
France barred four Islamic preachers from entering the country after banning prominent preacher Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi and another Egyptian cleric who wanted to attend a Muslim conference in Paris. Foreign Minister Alain Juppe and Interior Minister Claude Gueant said in a joint statement the four preachers “call for hate and violence … and, in the current context, present a strong risk of upsetting public order”.
President Nicolas Sarkozy, who ordered a crackdown on radical Islamists after the Toulouse killings by an al Qaeda-inspired gunman last week, said that Qaradawi and Mahmoud al-Masri were not welcome in France. The Union of French Islamic Organisations (UOIF), which invited the clerics to an April 6-9 conference, said it was surprised and hurt by the government’s “manifest determination to prolong a polemic … based on total ignorance”.
The four preachers – a Palestinian, an Egyptian and two Saudis – were due to take part in an annual conference in Paris hosted by the UOIF, which is close to the Muslim Brotherhood.
News Agencies – March 30, 2012
French Presidential Candidate, Marine Le Pen, leader of the nationalist Front National party, called for the Union of Islamic Organizations of France (UOIF) to be banned and its congress next week to be scrapped, the FN said. “Marine Le Pen calls for a ban on the event in Le Bourget. Marine Le Pen wants the break up of the Union of Islamic Organizations of France,” Le Pen said in a statement. The congress is scheduled for April 6-9. The French government has recently banned four Islamic religious leaders heading for the UOIF congress from entering France.
The ban came after President Nicolas Sarkozy ordered a crackdown on “preachers, continually attacking French values” from entering the country. Nationalist feeling has been rising in France, with the far-right National Front performing better than expected in recent local elections. Marine Le Pen is widely expected to make the run-off in presidential polls set for April 22.
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 – May 31, 2011
Despite a boycott by the Mosque of Paris and the UOIF, CFCM elections are going ahead. The Minister of the Interior has been active in seeking to save the organization. 43 chosen delegates will elect the 22 members of the organization, including the president. In 2008, 1, 221 mosques participated. This year 700 are expected to vote.
News Agencies –May 8, 2011
While recognizing tensions in the process, France’s Minister of the Interior Claude Guéant has indicated he will do all he can to ensure that elections take place for the CFCM (the French Council of the Muslim Faith). The Union of Islamic Organizations of France (UOIF) has announced its intentions not to participate in the elections and the Mosque of Paris’ rector Dalil Boubakeur has similarly voiced concern with the electoral process (wherein voting is determined based on the square footage of individual mosques). Guéant iterated that even if the election process is not perfect, the CFCM remains important in France to act on issues pertaining to Islam, “particularly the question of imam training”. These imams should also be in dialogue with the French justice system and in broader French culture, added the Minister. Elections are scheduled to take place on June 5th and 19th, 2011.
Speaking from the large gathering of French Muslims in Bourget, the UOIF (the Union of Islamic Organizations of France) claims a rise in Islamophobia recently in France.
This weekend 150,000 French Muslims are expected to congregate in Bourget, a Parisian suburb, for the 27th “Rencontre des musulmans de France”, organized by the UOIF, the Union of Islamic Organizations of France.
A prominent French group of imams is backing a possible ban on the burqa. “We support any law that bans the wearing of a face veil in France,” said Hassan Chalghoumi, Chairman of the Conference of French Imams. The imam group, launched last year, says it fully supports a legal ban, basing their stance on the opinion of the majority of Muslim scholars who agree that a woman is not obliged to cover her entire face. Chalghoumi says face-veils are now being exploited as weapons “to tarnish” Muslim minorities in France and the West in general.
“Amid the silence of most of the Muslim organizations in France, we took such decision to end defaming campaigns against Islam and Muslims,” said the Tunisian-born Drancy imam.
The group’s position, however, drew immediate rebuke from prominent Muslim leaders in the European country. Mohammed Moussaoui, head of the official French Council for the Muslim Faith (CFCM), rejects any legal ban as a violation for Muslims’ religious freedom rights. “Such a call would only help Islamophobia rather than suppress it,” agrees Fouad Alaoui, President of the French Union of Islamic Organizations (l’UOIF). The l’UOIF has voiced strong opposition to a face-veil ban bill and attended three sessions of the parliamentary commission discussing the ban.