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Prayer in a mosque. Photo credit: Rumman Amin

Islamist currents in France desperate to hinder ‘Charter of Values’

The numbers are overwhelming, and so are the testimonials. Data collected by French pollster Ifop for the Jaurès Foundation, which had interviewed several teachers confronted with political Islam even in their classes, paint a dreary picture.

Published: January 8, 2021, 10:22 am

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    French daily Le Figaro reported on Thursday, January 7, that the survey carried out on the sixth anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo attack, revealed that 49 percent of secondary school teachers said they had already applied self-censorship in their classes. That’s 12 points higher than three years ago. Some teachers are more concerned than other, especially those providing “physical and sports education, science and history-geography'” according to Remy-Charles Sirvent, national secretary of the UNSA teachers’ union and general secretary of the National Committee for Secular Action (CNAL).

    Le Figaro also looked at the daily life of several teachers. One of them is in charge of physical and sports education at an establishment in Bouches-du-Rhône. He recalled the speech of one student towards during a mixed duet. “I can not touch you, I have no right, you do not even do Ramadan”. With compulsory physical contact, the most religious have patriarchal reflexes which are activated,” said Remy-Charles Sirven.

    A professor of Earth Sciences and Life said two years ago, she explained the theory of evolution. But one of the pupils, who was about 13 years old, exclaimed: “Man does not descend from the monkey, he was created by Allah!”.

    Despite President Emmanuel Macron’s request to provide a commitment to France “in the form of values”, the federations that make up the French Council of Muslim Worship (CFCM) are still mired in internal struggles.

    According to information from the Journal du Dimanche (JDD), work on the “Charter of Values” desired by the President of the Republic, in particular to fight against separatism, have reached a dead end because of internal struggles that have arisen within the signatory federations but also the double-speak introduced to please both Muslims and the government.

    Thus, Emmanuel Macron had asked the CFCM for a text signed by the nine federations. In fact, the charter was intended to demonstrate their “attachment to the essential laws and principles of the Republic”. But while an agreement seemed to have been reached, weeks after the French president’s request, no text has yet officially been presented.

    Worse still, according to sources close to the Ministry of the Interior, the contributions of the nine federations are “below expectations and promises”. The crucial points raised revolve around Islamism and France being portrayed as a “racist state”.

    A passage from the charter clearly stated the position to be taken: “By political Islam, this charter designates the political and/or ideological currents commonly called Wahhabism, Salafism, the doctrine of the Muslim Brotherhood and more generally any local or transnational or international movement which aims to use Islam in order to establish a political doctrine…”

    And it is indeed this passage which has been the stumbling block for three of the nine federations supposed to sign the document. Marwan Muhammad, the former leader of the CCIF, dissolved in November by the government, said the “CFCM gave in to the diktat of Gerald Darmanin by drafting a charter of shame”.

    The president of the CFCM, Mohammed Moussaoui did not wish to respond to the JDD when questioned about this. He is considered by some as “republican” when it comes to discussing with the ministry, but “archaic” when discussing with Islamists.

    More generally, it would seem that the term “apostasy” is the central point of disagreement between the federations and the CFCM. According to the JDD, “the currents of Islamist obedience” do not want the word mentioned in the charter.

    They are also opposed to the fact “that no religious authority can question teaching methods”. Thus, the gap remains large and the individual organizations are very far from reaching an agreement.

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