France issues charter for imams meant to fight ‘political Islam’
The charter asserts how Islamic values and French republican principles are 'perfectly compatible.'
PARIS — Representatives of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) said on Monday that they agreed on a “Charter of Principles,” which would define an “Islam of France” after months of tense negotiations among Muslim representatives and with French authorities.
The charter is meant to ensure Muslim religious leaders and organizations align with the core values of the French Republic, emphasizing that Islam and the republic are “perfectly compatible.”
French President Emmanuel Macron pushed for the charter as part of his government’s measures to combat Islamist radicalism, along with a “law reinforcing republican principles” introduced Monday in the National Assembly.
The text explicitly supports the French ideal of laïcité — separation of church and state — and rejects discrimination, gender inequality and “certain cultural practices which claim to belong to Islam.”
Article 6 mentions the “struggle against all forms of instrumentalization of Islam to political or ideological ends,” with signatories promising to refuse “the promotion of what is known as ‘political Islam.’” Signatories also commit to gradually moving away from receiving foreign financing.
The CFCM includes federations of various Muslim communities that don’t see eye to eye on many central issues. They still have to agree on setting up a National Council of Imams, which is meant to train French imams so that the country’s Muslim community can gradually rely less on foreign-born imams, who are often financed by countries like Algeria or Turkey and not always familiar with French culture.
Article 9 states that “denunciations of a so-called State racism” are “slander.” Such denunciations “feed and exacerbate both anti-Muslim hatred and anti-France hatred,” the text reads.
Activists have denounced discrimination against Muslims and racial minorities by law enforcement and other French institutions. The government has strongly denied any structural discrimination.
Macron met members of the CFCM for lunch on Monday after an agreement was reached in the early hours of the morning between the interior ministry and the CFCM, which serves as the de facto representative of Muslims to the French government. It was the fourth meeting Macron held with the council since he called for such a charter to be agreed last October.
An Élysée official said Macron considers the text “a clear commitment to the republic, an important step.”
Five of the eight federations within the CFCM have signed the document. The official said the Élysée expects all will ultimately sign it, but that the president will “draw conclusions accordingly” if they don’t.
Rym Momtaz contributed reporting.