It’s not a provocation, it’s just a right I despise,” he said
This week the French Council of Muslims (CFCM) is set to meet with President Emmanuel Macron, to approve a new pamphlet, “French Cultural Law” for imams in the country to sign.
It is reported that the Congress (CFCM), which comprises various Muslim groups in the country is required to include in the pamphlet containing the cultural law of the Republic of France, the rejection of Islam as a political party and prevent foreign influences.
“We all do not agree on what the French custom of law is and what it entails,” said Chems-Eddine Hafiz, vice-president of the CFCM and head of the Paris Grand Mosque.
However, he said, “we are in the midst of a history of Islamic change in France and we Muslims are facing a responsibility.” Eight years ago, he said, his thinking was different.
Islamist militant Mohamed Merah recently launched an attack in Toulouse.
“Former French President Sarkozy made me get out of bed at about five o’clock in the morning to discuss it. I told him: ‘His name may be Mohammed, but he is also a criminal! I did not want to confuse crime with religion. But today, I do. The French clergy have to work on it. “
The plan was for the group to create a register of clergy in France, each of which would sign the law, before it could be vetted.
In October, President Macron spoke out against “putting pressure” on Muslim leaders. But it is also a difficult Shi’ite country that seeks to differentiate between religion and government.
Mr Macron is trying to stop Islamic politics, without being accused of interfering in religious affairs or discriminating against any other religion.
Bringing all Muslim groups together in French society has been a contentious issue in recent years. France has an estimated five million Muslims – the country with the largest number of Muslim minorities in Europe.
Olivier Roy, an expert on Islamic affairs in France, says the law creates two problems.
One is discrimination because it only applies to preachers of Islam, and the other is the right to practice the religion.
“You are required to abide by these national laws,” he told me, “but you are not required to discriminate against LGBT members, for example, the Catholic Church is not approved. same-sex marriage. ”
Beauty designer Iman Mestaoui has been receiving scathing comments from what she calls “haters” – Islamic extremists who say the design of the turban and its turbans rarely covers a woman’s hair properly.
However, she said, the issue of ordering clerics to sign “French customary law” is a problem, given that Muslims who are not fully French citizens are viewed.
“It’s to put us in a situation where you have to show people that you accept French culture and values; where you feel like you’re a French citizen, but you also don’t feel French in your body.” she explain
Pastor Chalghoumi led the mourning of the beheaded teacher Samuel Paty
“We feel like everything we do – taxes, ‘development’ projects – will suffice. You have to show that you are a French citizen; you have to eat pork; drink alcohol; do not wear hijab, wear “Short skirt. That’s not right.”
‘ Extremists – bombs’
But Hassen Chalghoumi, imam of the Drancy mosque on the outskirts of Paris, said after years of terrorist attacks, the government was forced to take action.
Mr Chalghoumi is now in hiding, after receiving death threats over his idea of reform.
“We have to get to the bottom of it and show that we are all united, that we respect the law,” he told me. “This is the result of extremism.”
Prayers at the Grand Mosque of Paris
Outside the Paris Grand Mosque, Charki Dennai arrived to offer his prayers, squeezing his prayer mat and the Holy Qur’an in his hammer.
“These (extremist) young people are like bombs,” he said. It’s easy. That’s what I do.
But there are questions about the impact the imam has on young Muslims, especially when it comes to extremist violence.
“It will not work,” said Olivier Roy, “because the terrorists did not come from Salafi mosques. If you look at the biographies of the terrorists, none of them came from where the Salafis preached “Salafist ideology is a extremist, extremist group associated with political Islam.
Overcoming the problem of neglected youth
The law is one of the government’s biggest policies to tackle the problem of foreign influence, to prevent violence and threats from extremists, as well as to attract young people who feel marginalized in the country.
Mr Macron is considering increasing the teaching of Arabic in the country’s schools and further developing the backward region, and has made it clear that he is on equal footing with extremists who reject French law and culture. , but not all Muslims.
Hakim El-Karoui is an expert on French Muslim groups at the Montaigne Center that regularly contributes to government thinking.
But he said Muslims themselves should be involved in such government activities, “because they can contribute to the dissemination and awareness of a part of Islam on social media – the government has failed to do so.” ‘.
And without the signature of “rural Muslims”, Olivier Roy said, it would be difficult for the new law to take effect.
“Let us think that the Muslims of the region should decide for the CFCM to re-appoint their own imam,” he told me.
“What will the government do? “Either we change the constitution and tolerate the system of ‘religious freedom’ or the government will not be able to elect the Muslim community as its own clergy.”
At a photo booth in Paris, while taking pictures of her new magazine, Iman Mestaoui told me that she had put her whole family to vote for President Macron in the 2017 election.
Since then, she has noticed a “significant change” in her freedom on security and immigration issues.
“I was what supported Macron,” she said. “It was our hope in the community, but now we feel we have been singled out.”