Strongly supported by President Emmanuel Macron, the creation of a body able to label the training of imams in France had been in effect since November 18, 2020. In a firm speech on separatism, a month earlier, the President of the Republic had entrusted this “Immense responsibility” to Muslim leaders, a way of stemming foreign interference in the organization of Muslim worship.
Finally, it is not one, but two National Councils of Imams (CNI) which will have to coexist. The first saw the light of day on November 21, under the aegis of the Great Mosque of Paris, the Rassemblement des Muslims de France, Musulmans de France (ex-UOIF, French branch of the Muslim Brotherhood) and the French Federation of Associations Islamic countries of Africa, the Comoros and the West Indies. These four federations had left the French Council of Muslim Worship (CFCM) in March, already largely undermining its legitimacy to represent the Islam of France. The body set up, under the statute of association governed by the law of 1905, aims in particular to issue approvals to imams and to support them in their missions.
According to Chems-Eddine Hafiz, rector of the Great Mosque, this CNI was founded “In interaction with the public authorities”. The Minister of the Interior, Gerald Darmanin, also came to greet, on Sunday, the elected president of the body, the Franco-Mauritanian Imam Ba Amadou, but was not present at the time of the official launch of the CNI. Unlike Haïm Korsia, the chief rabbi of France, who spoke to nearly 300 imams by referring to the “Charter of Principles for Islam in France” signed by the four federations at the origin of this council.
However, its launch is not unanimous. Some critics focus in particular on the presence of Muslims in France. This controversial federation paved the way for the training of imams on French soil with the European Institute of Human Sciences (IESH) in Château-Chinon in 1992.
Above all, they are very lively even within the Muslim community. “We consider this advice to be illegitimate”, slice Mohammed Moussaoui, the president of the CFCM, questioned by The cross. In its press release of November 18, the office of the body whose vocation is to represent the Muslim religion in France even ensures to reserve “The right to act by all legal means to put an end to this irresponsible attitude, which only worsens a situation of division that is detrimental to all”.
The CFCM is about to launch son own National Council of Imams, December 12. “We will take care to allow a real consultation of the imams because they are the first concerned, he explains, anxious to involve as many people as possible, “Of all tendencies, all origins and all federations. “” We will start from their experiences in the field, at the local level, for the establishment of this national structure. “
But, how to understand this gaping disunity within the Islam of France? “By forcing the line a little, it is the symbol of a divorce, which seems lasting, between, on the one hand, the Algerians of the Great Mosque of Paris and, on the other, the Moroccans of the CFCM”, sums up an informed observer of the case.
Therefore, what can be the reaction of the State which defended the idea of a CNI to certify imams and fight against extremism and will have to recognize two? “The government is obliged to take this into account, explains this same source. It is not he who defines the organization of a cult and what an imam is. In 2010, the authorities had to take note of the creation of the National Council of Evangelicals of France (Cnef), when the Protestant Federation of France already existed. “
What will be the real scope of these two CNIs and the approvals they will issue to control the training and preaching of imams? The weight of these new bodies should be put into perspective, according to this observer, because they will above all be “Administrative and political”and not “Theological and independent” to empower imams. The bet of the harmonization of French training for imams and the possibility of a common course seems to be largely compromised.