State-approved French Muslim leaders have signed a charter denouncing accusations of racism against France, and pledging to recognise “equality between men and women” and to combat “political Islam.”
After several weeks of negotiations, the French Council for Muslim Worship, which is approved by the state to represent Islam in France, formally approved a “charter of principles” for Islam in France.
The text, demanded by President Emmanuel Macron in November as part of his offensive against “separatism,” also affirms the compatibility of Islam with secularism.
The text states: “We reaffirm from the outset that neither our religious convictions nor any other reason can supplant the principles which found the law and the constitution of the Republic. No religious conviction can be invoked to escape the obligations of citizens.
“From a religious and ethical point of view, Muslims, whether nationals or foreign residents, are bound to France by a pact. This commits them to respect national cohesion, public order and the laws of the Republic. Any signatory to this charter therefore undertakes, with respect and dignity, to work for civil peace and to fight against all forms of violence and hatred.”
The charter undertakes to:
- Reject attacks on those who renounce Islam
- Reject all discrimination based on religion, sex, sexual orientation, ethnicity, health or disability
- Fight the ideology of takfir
- Combat political Islam (defined as Salafism, Wahhabism, the Tabligh and the Muslim Brotherhood)
“We fight with determination against any movement or ideology whose project diverts our religion from its true purpose and tries to create power relations and fractures in our society,” the text says. “Thus, we are committed not to use, nor to allow to use, Islam or the concept of the Ummah in a local or national political perspective or for the needs of a political agenda dictated by a foreign power which denies plurality constituent with Islam.
“We refuse to allow places of worship to broadcast political speeches or to import conflicts that take place in other parts of the world. Our mosques and places of worship are reserved for prayer and the transmission of values. They are not set up for the dissemination of nationalist speeches defending foreign regimes and supporting foreign policies hostile to France, our country, and our French compatriots.”
The charter also pledges to reject foreign funding of religious institutions and condemns accusations of racism against France.
“Denunciations of alleged state racism, like all victimhood postures, amount to defamation. They feed and exacerbate both anti-Muslim hatred and hatred of France. Defamation and the spread of false information are crimes. Their prohibition is a moral requirement.
“Extremist currents are based on bellicose concepts, inciting violence and secession in discourses that harm French society as much as it does the image of Islam and Muslims. We will educate the youth to protect them from self-proclaimed imams who convey such a vision of Islam.”
Commenting on the charter, Emmanuel Macron said it offers “a clarification of how the Muslim community is organised and would also provide a framework for a new National Council of Imams that will be responsible for vetting imams practicing in the country.
“This is a clear, decisive and precise commitment in favour of the Republic,” Macron said, hailing “a truly foundational text for relations between the state and Islam in France.”
The charter comes as 36 NGOs from 13 countries submitted a formal complaint to the United Nations Human Rights Council demanding immediate legal action against France over the violation of its Muslim citizens’ rights.
The complaint demanded that France rescind all laws which have systemically entrenched Islamophobia in France.
Over the past few months France has closed down the nation’s biggest anti-Islamophobia organisation as well as the country’s biggest Muslim charity. Paris has done this, it says, to fight extremism after a number of deadly “Islamist” attacks on its soil.