The French government has announced several initiatives that are in their early stages regarding the regulation of Islam in France.
In May, Ahmet Ogras, the president of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), the institution responsible for representing the religion to the public authorities, had first said he wanted such consultation.
CFCM leaders are facing a tight schedule. In spring 2019, their term expires, and new elections must be held. Many say the institution will survive only if it reformed its mode of organization. Hence, the idea launched Mr. Ogras of a consultation, which seems to be stalled. The CFCM suffers from a structural lack of means and rivalry between participating mosque federations.
The second consultation was undertaken by associative activists at the initiative of Marwan Muhammad, the former executive director of the Collective against Islamophobia in France. Participants were able to answer online a series of more or less open questions about their expectations and what they thought about the current situation. This questionnaire was doubled by meetings in mosques during the month of Ramadan.
A committee must summarize the proposals this summer and present proposals in early September. “The hajj [pilgrimage], halal, the operation of mosques, the transparent collection of donations and the traceability of money” should be discussed, said Muhammad.
A confidential statement to French President Emmanuel Macron by one of his closest collaborators and published Le Monde outlines a plan to regulate Islam by making financing transparent and better integrating the community based on the principles of French social and economic life.
The plan was drawn up by Macron collaborator Hakim El Karoui, and provides for the creation of an association managed by French Muslims that will train and pay the imams, remodel the mosques and manage communication. It would be referred to as L’Association pour le financement et le soutien du culte musulman (AFSCM).
It will be financed by a tax on halal food products and on pilgrimages to Mecca, as well as by a tax exemption on donations by followers.
Composed and led by French Muslims, the AFSCM should claim “neutrality” vis-à-vis the various actors. The idea would be to pass through the body most of the sums generated by the Muslim cult, while the financial circuits of Islam, which take part in the states of origin of Muslim families (mainly Algeria, the Morocco and Tunisia) are today hardly traceable, whether halal food, pilgrimage or construction of mosques. “A lot of money circulates and it is possible to organize his job,” said El Karoui.
In a process of “total transparency”, “professionalism” and “independence”, the AMIF should improve the “service rendered” to Muslims in France. By levying a halal fee (60 million euros within five years), the AFSCM will be awarded the role of “certifier certifier”, notably by granting a visa to mosques that issue slaughter cards. . While the pilgrimage to Mecca costs more and more to the faithful, the AFSCM would allow to regulate the rates of such trips and offer a better service. The institution could also receive direct, tax-free donations. Recipes that would give AFSCM the power to oversee the training of imams and to participate in the construction of new places of worship. The objective: to constitute “a great movement of emancipation” of the Muslim cult compared to “the guardianship of the State”, according to Hakim El Karoui. In return, the AFSCM would have a “clear and republican political charter” including “respect for secularism” and “gender equality”.
The association was launched on July 7 at the Great Mosque of Paris. According to relevant documents, the AFSCM “has the sole purpose of the [regulating] the exercise of the Muslim faith in France financially or supporting activities of a religious nature.”