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President Emmanuel Macron on Monday greeted French Muslim leaders after they agreed on a “charter of principles” aimed at combating sectarianism and radicalized teachings accused of an upsurge in jihadist attacks in France in recent years years.
The charter offers “a clarification of the organization of the Muslim community,” Macron said after a meeting with representatives of the French Council for Muslim Worship (CFCM), his office said.
It will also provide a framework for a new National Council of Imams which will be responsible for monitoring imams practicing in the country.
“It is about a clear, decisive and precise commitment in favor of the republic”, declared Macron, welcoming “a text truly founding of the relations between the State and Islam in France”.
Macron had urged the council to act against “political Islam” in November after the murder of Samuel Paty, a teacher who was beheaded outside his school after showing controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed as part of a freedom class expression.
The attack sparked a crackdown on extremist mosques and Muslim associations, as well as a vigorous defense of French secularism which is seen as increasingly threatened by radicalized Islamic teachings.
“Defend foreign regimes”
The new 10-point charter “clearly states that the principles of the Muslim faith are perfectly compatible with the principles of the republic,” CFCM President Mohammed Moussaoui told reporters after the meeting.
The agreement was reached on Saturday during a meeting with the Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin after weeks of resistance from certain members of the CFCM who opposed a “restructuring” of Islam to make it compatible with the French law and values.
Moussaoui said that the eight federations of the CFCM, representing various currents of Islam, had approved the charter, but that three had not yet signed the agreement because “they need a little more time to explain this. that it means to their supporters, “said an Elysee official.
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The charter rejects the “instrumentalization” of Islam for political ends and affirms equality between men and women, while denouncing practices such as excision, forced marriages and “certificates of virginity” for the newlyweds.
“No religious conviction, whatever it is, can be invoked to evade the duties of citizens”, he specifies.
He also explicitly rejects racism and anti-Semitism, and warns that mosques “are not created for the propagation of nationalist rhetoric defending foreign regimes.”
Macron also said authorities plan to expel the 300 or so imams in France sent to teach from Turkey, Morocco and Algeria.
The agreement on the charter comes as a parliamentary committee on Monday began debate on a new law to combat “pernicious” Islamist radicalism with measures to ensure the strict separation of church and state in the public sphere.
The legislation would tighten the rules on matters ranging from religious education to polygamy, although Macron insisted the goal is to protect all French citizens without stigmatizing the country’s four to five million Muslims, the largest number in Europe.