Macron’s govt launches new body to oversee Islam in France | Dailytrust

Macron’s govt launches new body to oversee Islam in France

The French government has introduced a new body to oversee the practice of Islam in France, part of President Emmanuel Macron’s efforts to prevent extremism but also to impress the electorate weeks before the presidential vote.

The leadership of the Forum of Islam in France will be made up of imams and lay people to help guide the largest Muslim community in western Europe. All of its members will be hand-picked by the government and women will make up at least a quarter of them.

Supporters said the new body would keep the country, and its 5 million Muslims, safe and ensure that Muslim practices in France adhere to the country’s cherished value of secularism in public life.

Yet critics, including many Muslims who consider the religion a part of their French identity, said the government’s latest initiative is another step in institutionalised discrimination that holds the whole community responsible for violent attacks of a few and serves as another barrier in their public lives.

It replaces the French Council of Muslim Faith, a group set up in 2003 by former President Nicolas Sarkozy, then interior minister. The Council served as an interlocutor between the government and religious leaders.

“We must turn the page,” Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said at the forum’s inaugural meeting at The Economic, Social and Environmental Council in Paris. “We are restarting relations between the state and the faith … (based on) a new form of dialogue that will be more open, more inclusive and more representative of Islam’s diversity in France.”

Islam is the second religion in France, with no single leader and multiple strains represented, from moderate to Salafist with a puritanical interpretation of the religion to outright radical upstarts.

Macron’s project includes measures like training imams in France instead of bringing them in from Turkey, Morocco or Algeria — a plan many in the Muslim community approve of. It also breaks the centralised leadership of imams. (The Arab Weekly)


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