French Muslim groups strike blow at Macron’s anti-extremism charter

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Paris (AFP)

Three Muslim groups on Wednesday refused to support an anti-extremism charter pushed by French officials following a series of jihadist-inspired attacks, dealing a blow to a flagship initiative of the government of President Emmanuel Macron.

The charter rejects the “instrumentalization” of Islam for political ends and affirms equality between men and women, while denouncing practices such as female circumcisions, forced marriages or “certificates of virginity” for the newlyweds.

The French Council of Muslim Worship (CFCM), a body created almost 20 years ago to allow dialogue between the government and the Muslim community, widely welcomed the charter and five of its eight federations signed on Sunday.

However, the other three groups said on Wednesday that they could not join their colleagues.

“We believe that certain passages and formulations of the submitted text are likely to weaken the bonds of trust between Muslims in France and the nation,” the three groups said in a statement.

“In addition, some statements are prejudicial to the honor of Muslims, with an accusing and marginalizing tone.

Macron spoke out against the promotion of “political Islam” in France in November last year after a teacher was beheaded outside his school.

He had shown the students caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad as part of a free speech lesson.

The attack sparked a crackdown on extremist mosques and Islamist associations, as well as a vigorous defense of French secularism.

Macron said this week that the charter offered “a clarification of how the Muslim community is organized.”

It will also provide a framework for a new National Council of Imams which will be responsible for monitoring imams practicing in the country.

The future of the charter is now uncertain.

The three groups – two of which are Franco-Turkish organizations and the other which describes itself as an educational and cultural group – said they would only be ready to register after a “broad, democratic and participatory consultation” .

“To adopt this charter, we must recognize ourselves in its content. It would not be useful to sign a text that our community cannot calmly accept”, they wrote.

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