Turkish Muslim groups in France oppose controversial anti-Islam bill

Turkish Muslim groups in France oppose controversial anti-Islam bill
3 min read
13 February, 2021
Citing the bill's marginalising nature against Muslims, Turkish Muslim foundations in France refuse to sign the newly-established Islamic charter that aims to replace some Muslim values with the French ones.
Macron plans to expel 300 imams sent to teach from Turkey, Morocco and Algeria [Getty]
Turkish-Muslim groups in France have refused to sign a controversial bill pushed by President Emmanuel Macron, Turkish media reported on Wednesday.

The Confederation Islamique Milli Gorus France's new said it will not sign the "charter of principles" of Islam until amendments are made.

The group's chairman, Fatih Sarikir, demanded fundamental changes to the bill before he would sign it, according to Turkish news agency Anadolu Agency.

"It is declared as 'Islam of France' so the content is arranged accordingly. Now the target is not only the imams but also the Muslims," he said.

"We will maintain our constructive behavior. We don’t have any problem with the laws of France. Our only concern is that Muslims can practice their religion."

Sarikir also stressed the importance of including Islamic leaders in efforts to change the bill, which he said was causing "psychological pressure" on the group after refusing to sign it.

The head of the Coordination Committee of Turkish Muslims in France, Ibrahim Alci, said he also wanted changes to several articles within the bill, which aims to provide a framework for a new National Council of Imams that will be responsible for vetting imams practising in the country.

"Six hundred to 700 mosques and associations are behind us. There are nearly 2,500 mosques in France," he said, adding that the bill contains articles that could be against the interest of Muslims.

Alci said he "was sorry" for how their refusal to sign the bill was being portrayed in the French media: "They see us as Islamists and terrorists."

The charter offers "a clarification of how the Muslim community is organised," Macron said after a meeting with representatives of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), his office said.

"This is a clear, decisive and precise commitment in favour of the republic," Macron said, hailing "a truly foundational text for relations between the state and Islam in France."

Macron had urged the council to act against "political Islam" in November, after the killing of Samuel Paty, a teacher who was beheaded outside his school after showing controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed as part of a free-speech lesson.

The attack prompted a crackdown against mosques and Islamist associations, along with a vigorous defence of French secularism.

It also explicitly rejects racism and anti-Semitism, and warns that mosques "are not created for the spreading of nationalist speech defending foreign regimes".

Macron has also said that authorities plan to expel the roughly 300 imams in France sent to teach from Turkey, Morocco and Algeria.

The charter accord comes as a parliamentary commission began a debate over a new draft law apparently to fight "pernicious" Islamist radicalism with measures to ensure France's strict separation of religious bodies and state in the public sphere.

The legislation would tighten rules on issues from religious-based education to polygamy, though Macron has insisted the goal is to protect all French citizens without stigmatising the country's estimated four to five million Muslims, the largest number in Europe.

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