the CFCM charter, a political victory for the Elysée



Mohamed Moussaoui (CFCM) and Chems-Eddine Hafiz (Great Mosque of Paris) at the Elysee Palace on Monday.


© WITT / SIPA
Mohamed Moussaoui (CFCM) and Chems-Eddine Hafiz (Great Mosque of Paris) at the Elysee Palace on Monday.

Requested in November by Emmanuel Macron, the charter of principles for Islam in France was formally adopted on Monday and should be one of the instruments in the fight against separatism, initiated by the government.

At the end of final negotiations with the Ministry of the Interior, the French Council for Muslim Worship (CFCM) officially adopted, on Monday, the “Charter of principles for Islam in France”. It was formalized during a meeting with the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, the Elysee calling the charter a fundamental step. “It is an ambitious text that goes very far», Comments to Release Anouar Kbibech, president of the RMF (Gathering of Muslims of France, of Moroccan Obedience), one of the five federations which signed the charter at the presidential palace on Monday morning.

Containing ten articles, the document, written in clear language and regularly referring to suras from the Koran, is a sort of vade-mecum of hexagonal Islam. The text proclaims equality between men and women (without however addressing the thorny question of the veil), the preeminence of the laws of the Republic over religious convictions, the rejection of the stranglehold of foreign States, the condemnation of anti-Semitic acts, of the homophobia and misogyny, recognizes freedom of conscience and the freedom to change religion, an issue much debated in ultra-Orthodox Muslim circles. “It is in a way the ten commandments of republican Islam”, analyzes sociologist Franck Frégosi.

Five out of nine signatory federations

The CFCM and its charter were eagerly awaited on the issue of political Islam against which the government has been fighting hard since the fall. The text adopted on Monday specifically points to the movements which, according to the CFCM, promote Islamism: Salafism, Wahhabism, the current of thought of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Tabligh, a very pietist movement born in Pakistan at the beginning of the XXe century, which played an important role in re-Islamization among the first generation of immigrant workers in France.

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Video: The charter of principles of Islam “bodes very positive prospects”, according to the president of the CFCM (Le Figaro)

The charter of principles of Islam “augurs very positive prospects”, according to the president of the CFCM

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For the moment, five of the nine federations that make up the CFCM have signed the charter. The great mosque of Reunion has withdrawn from the project, because of its specificities. It already has a local council of imams and a significant part of Reunion’s mosques is Shiite. Faith and practice, close to Tabligh, and especially the two Turkish organizations, the Millî Görüs and the CCMTF (Coordination Committee of Turkish Muslims in France), under Ankara’s control, are also missing. Even if the authorities of the CFCM affirm that all the federations will sign, the unknown remains as for the position of Turkey on the subject of the charter.

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This project was started at the request of the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, during a meeting on November 18 with CFCM officials. Which does not fail to arouse criticism. Does the state interfere in the internal management of a cult? “Under the law of 1905, the state does not have to interfere in the internal affairs of a religion. But I can understand that the public authorities seek to have reliable interlocutors, analyzes the theologian Ghaleb Bencheikh. The situation may seem unfair vis-à-vis Islam but it is justified, I believe, in the light of what we experienced this fall, by the violence of an ideology which has taken the Muslim religion hostage. ” According to the Elysee, there was no snagging in the law of 1905 anyway.

“It was to succeed or to disappear”

Until the end, the executive still weighed all its weight for the charter to be ratified. Thus, he brought the rector of the Grand Mosque back to the negotiating table, Chems-Eddine Hafiz, who had slammed the door loudly at the end of last year. “For the CFCM, it was to succeed or to disappear”, notes a source close to the case. Many observers compare Emmanuel Macron’s method to that employed by Napoleon in 1806 with regard to French Judaism. Through a long questionnaire, the emperor then forced the leaders of the Jewish community to position themselves vis-à-vis the legal framework of French society resulting from the Revolution (divorce, polygamy, mixed marriage, etc.). The challenge now is to rally other players from the Muslim world to this charter. The government does not hide, according to a source at the Elysee, its wish to use the text to sanction imams who do not respect the commitments made. In short, to make it an instrument of his fight against what he calls separatism.

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The signing of the charter paves the way for the creation of the National Council of Imams (CNI) which should control the training of Muslim religious officials officiating in France and give them approval. But with whom will this authority be exercised? For the moment, the vagueness reigns. If France has roughly 2,500 places of Muslim worship, barely a thousand of them are affiliated with the federations that make up the CFCM. Most French mosques are, in fact, managed by independent associations. Are they going to sign this charter or not? “We don’t know yet what we’re going to do, precise to Release Kamel Kabtane, the rector of the great mosque of Lyon. We find it out. We should have been involved from the start in the reflection. ” This regret is fairly widely shared at the grassroots. “No religion has been treated in this way”, adds, very annoyed, Kamal Kabtane.

For now, the CFCM wants to move forward in the establishment of departmental structures, one of the major projects carried by its current president, Mohammed Moussaoui. The body seeks to get closer to the field. The criticism of its lack of representativeness is, in fact, recurrent. The territorial anchoring of the CFCM is also the key for the charter to fully play its role. “At the Élysée Palace, the President of the Republic told us that he wanted this charter not only to be signed but to be followed up”, explains one of the participants. But that, for the moment, remains the great unknown …

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