French President Emmanuel Macron unveils Strategy to combat Islamic Separatism in France - To stop foreign funding of Imams and Mosques
France to also not permit foreign Imams from entering the country during Ramadan. Teachings in other languages like Arabic or Turkish to be stopped and only French to be the medium of instruction.
French President Emmanuel Macron has announced a series of measures designed to combat “Islamic separatism” in France - including new rules on foreign imams, mosques and education.
Speaking at an event on a panel of ministers on Tuesday February 18 in Mulhouse (Haut-Rhin), Macron said that the measures will also aim to fight foreign influence and promote the 'positive organisation' of the Muslim faith.
It can be recalled that France has suffered from a series of Islamic terrorist attacks in recent years. The shooting and bombing attacks that occurred in November of 2015 and claimed the lives of 130 people was the deadliest in France since the Second World War.
Rallies like 'Shariah for France' are also increasingly being held in France. However, a 2017 Pew Research report estimates the Muslim population of France to be 5,720,000 or 8.8% of the total population.
Stop Foreign funded Imams
He said that France will gradually stop welcoming “detached imams” sent from other countries such as Turkey or Algeria. The French President said his government would aim to increase the number of imams trained in France, instead.
He also said that France will stop giving the permits to 300 or so extra religious leaders who usually enter France during the period of Ramadan every year, he said.
Stop Foreign funding of Mosques
The country would also work to ensure that mosques are funded in a transparent way and that imams working in France are respectful of French values. Mr Macron said: “We need to know where the money is coming from, who uses it, and why.”
Currently, France has around 300 “detached imams” from abroad, who are recruited to fill a number of positions in mosques across the country. These include 150 from Turkey, 120 from Algeria, and around 30 from Morocco.
French media says that this number represents a small percentage of the number of imams in France, who operate across 2,500 places of worship. The exact number is not known, but it is estimated that there are 1,800 imams across France.
Education in French only
In a key measure to stem increasing radicalisation among Muslims in France, the government would no longer be providing classes in other languages or use curricula from other governments. For many years France offered a scheme called ELCO language and culture program where language and culture teachings from the country of origin of the students was taught. This applied to nine countries - Algeria, Croatia, Italy, Morocco, Portugal, Serbia, Tunisia, and Turkey and included 80,000 pupils per year.
Macron said: “The problem we have today with this, is that we have more and more teachers who do not speak French, and for whom our national education is not relevant. I am not comfortable with the idea that in a school in the Republic, women and men are able to teach without national education having the slightest control. And we have no control, either, on the curricula that they teach".
“We cannot be teaching things that are manifestly not compatible with the laws of the Republic, or history as we see it. From la rentrée 2020, the teaching of culture, and in foreign languages, will be removed from everywhere on Republic soil.” said the French President.