France: Muslim associations agree on Islam charter

The nine French Muslim associations belonging to the umbrella organisation CFCM agreed on a Charter of Principles for Islam in France at the weekend. The agreement came after months of President Macron urging them to take a stand against Islamism. Commentators praise the charter for managing to avoid discrimination while still adopting a clear stance - but also voice doubts about its effectiveness.

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Le Figaro (FR) /

Not the way to reach the target audience

Sociologist Tarik Yildiz is doubtful that the charter will have the desired effect, as he writes in Le Figaro:

“It seems highly unlikely that an individual undergoing radicalisation will be receptive towards an Imam who has been indirectly labelled by the state and is therefore seen as having 'sold out'. ... The Internet forums are overflowing with questions put by the young to French-speaking Imams who are active outside all institutional frameworks and who willingly provide clear answers. The main goal should be to ensure that a young person does not become receptive to separatist and/or radical discourses, which usually fill a void that institutions have allowed to develop.”

La Tribune de Genève (CH) /

Pragmatism pays

The Charter of Principles aligns well with the law against religious separatism currently under debate in the French parliament, La Tribune de Genève notes approvingly:

“Since the start of his presidency, Macron has been working discreetly on a project to identify the hotspots - mosques, schools, associations - in certain neighbourhoods, and together with local actors, examine the options for intervention in order to dissolve or ban them, while at the same time analysing the legal obstacles that previously stood in the way. But the law had to be adapted before this method could be applied. All this has now been executed, and with deliberate pragmatism; a quality which is not typically French but which has disarmed the opponents. ... It is now possible to take action against certain individuals without stigmatising others. ... Thanks to Macron.”

Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

Mastering the balancing act

Sweden should follow the French example, urges Dagens Nyheter:

“It would be a huge challenge to articulate the problem without pointing to and 'blaming' a particular group. ... And as is so often the case, there is the risk that more attention will be paid to the handful of radical Muslim voices than to the many moderates. ... But after the assassination of Samuel Patty, Macron has achieved a balance between distancing himself from radical Islam and taking into account the vast majority of Muslims who have been a visible component of French society for generations, and are equally affected by the violence and oppression of the extremists. This balancing act involves respectful listening and serious talks with each other. That works in Swedish, too.”