February 25, 2003


France and faith -- arcane twist (Uwe Siemon-Netto, February 25, 2003, UPI)
Although church and state are more rigidly separated in France than even in the United States, a succession of French governments has arm-twisted seven Islamic federations into launching an umbrella organization called French Council of Muslim Faith.

Its members will be chosen in congregational elections April 6 and 13. There are approximately 1,500 mosques in France, where the number of Muslims is estimated at 4 million to 5 million.

In December, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy expressed the hope that the umbrella organization would lead to the emergence of "a French Islam with French-speaking imams" supporting "values commensurate with the values of the Republic."

This is indeed the new council's most important task, according to Bruno Guideroni, a prominent Muslim scholar and research director at the Paris Institute of Astrophysics. At present, each of France's seven Muslim organizations is linked to a different foreign country -- and financed by it.

One is loyal to Algeria, another pays allegiance to Morocco, and a third one receives funds from the Gulf States. One is tied to Turkey and one to African nations. Yet another one is close to Pakistan's hard-line "madrasas," or Koranic schools.

This is not healthy, Guiderdoni told United Press International Tuesday. Tariq Ramadan, a Geneva-based scholar who has spent the last years trying to persuade Muslims in French-speaking countries to become loyal and active citizens in their respective nations, is pleading for their independence from foreign influences. [...]

Given the otherwise sharp separation between the secular and the spiritual realms in France, it seems ironic that the government is literally urging the Muslims to hurry up in establishing their equivalent to the Catholic, Protestant or Jewish "institutes," which are religious universities in all but name.

Though the state does not recognize their diplomas, master's degrees or doctorates, it supports these "institutes" financially, justifying this with their cultural accomplishments. Comparatively, you don't have to be Protestant or even a believer to attend the Protestant Institute of Paris and Montpellier. You can do so out of pure intellectual curiosity; thus the state does not favor any particular religion with its generosity.

At any rate, it'll save the Muslims the bother of establishing Islam when they take over the government. Posted by Orrin Judd at February 25, 2003 10:27 PM

I've come across two interesting articles that would seem to have a bearing on this one:

An article by Roger Scruton on Politics and Islam (linked to by LGF):


An article by a French-Jewish intellectual in Ha'aretz on French policy vis a vis Muslims in France:


Posted by: Barry Meislin at February 26, 2003 2:51 AM

You wold think the best way for the French to integrate Muslims would be to liberalise their labour market so the young and poor would have a better shot at getting jobs and be too busy working to try to blow up the Metro.

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at February 26, 2003 4:51 AM


And treat them like they're French first and Muslim second, rather than Muslim first and French never.

Posted by: oj at February 26, 2003 8:01 AM

M. Choudhury;

No, that wouldn't make sense for the French government. I have more here
but the short answer is that an empowered immigrant population is a threat to the centralizing of power France and the French can see what government funding did for Christianity in France so they're hoping to duplicate that for Islam as well.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at February 26, 2003 9:21 AM

AOG: Sad but true I guess.

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at February 26, 2003 12:37 PM