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Formation des imams

  • January 2021

The year 2020 has been dominated by the head of state’s announced intention to fight "religious separatism", which Emmanuel Macron finally presented publicly in October 2020. Although Islam in itself is neither exclusively nor explicitly targeted, many aspects of the law may concern Islam, namely : the neutrality of the public service is reinforced ; and subsidies to associations will be subject to conditions ; there will be limitation of home schooling and reinforcement of secular public schools ; also measures on inheritance (ensuring gender equality), polygamy and forced marriage ; adjustments concerning the exercise of worship.

As concerns Islam, the measures envisioned by Emmanuel Macron have 3 aims : to free Islam in France from foreign influences, to stabilise the governance of mosques, and to train in France imams who promote “an Islam that is fully compatible with the values of the Republic”. This mainly concerns the system of seconded imams from three countries with which the French State has signed agreements (150 Turks, 120 Algerians and 30 Moroccans, out of some 2,500 mosques) working in France and being paid by their country of origin.

In this perspective, the CFCM issued in November a document entitled Training France’s religious leaders and combating radicalisation : A priority for French Islam (Former les cadres religieux de France et lutter contre la radicalisation : Une priorité de l’islam de France). The president Emmanuel Macron received the presidents of the CFCM component federations at the Elysée Palace to review the progress of the project of creation of the National Council of Imams (Conseil national des imams, CNI). The CNI is setting up a procedure for approving imams at national level according to their religious knowledge, pedagogical skills and human qualities. However, the idea of a council of imams to regulate access to the function raises questions. Each mosque is free to recruit whoever it wishes as an imam. There is no possibility to determine who could give the CFCM a monopoly on the certification of imams, and no guarantee that mosques would feel concerned by this label. The French public authorities cannot really get involved in this strictly religious question without infringing the law of separation of church and state.

See :
- Cécile Chambraud, "Mosquées, imams… Les propositions de Macron pour un islam ‘libéré des influences étrangères’", Le Monde, 3 October 2020 ;
- Alexandre Lemarié, Olivier Faye, "Emmanuel Macron présente son plan contre le séparatisme islamique", Le Monde, 2 October 2020.

D 9 février 2021    AAnne-Laure Zwilling

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