French President Emmanuel Macron has demanded that Muslim organisations sign up to a charter which proclaims that “Islam is a religion and not a political movement.”
According to French media, the charter must recognise the “values of the Republic” and put an end to foreign involvement in French mosques.
Macron has given the French Council of Muslim Worship (CFCM) two weeks to draw up a charter of “republican values” its member organisations and affiliates will be expected to comply with, as part of his efforts to centralise the formation and accreditation of Muslim religious leaders in the country.
During a meeting on Wednesday evening with a number of French Muslim leaders, including CFCM president Mohammed Moussaoui and Chems-Eddine Hafiz, Macron tasked the national Muslim body with filing a draft of the charter.
“This is historic,” a statement from the presidency quoted by French media read. “This has been in discussion for decades.”
“I put my trust in you and you are beholden to my trust,” Macron told the CFCM members on Wednesday. “If some do not sign this charter, we will draw the consequences from that.”
Created in 2003 under then-interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy, the CFCM is a federation of Muslim religious organisations in France. It has since become the principal interlocutor of the government with regards to issues of organised Islam in France.
It remains unclear what exact consequences will face imams and organisations that do not abide by the future charter.
In early October, Macron sparked controversy during a speech in which he called Islam “a religion in crisis” and vowed to crack down on alleged Muslim “separatism”.
Paris’s plans have since intensified following the killing of a schoolteacher and an attack in the city of Nice that left three dead that same month.
A draft law on “separatism” is expected to be presented to the cabinet on December 9.
Demonstrations also took place across the Muslim world denouncing France’s stance on Islam and calling for boycotts of France.