ALL radical, foreign-trained imams in France will be replaced with more secular Muslim leaders trained within the country, in an effort to stop radicalisation in mosques, it has been announced.
The creation of a Foundation for Islam has become the government’s top priority after more than 80 people were killed during the Jihadist attacks in Nice and Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray this summer.
France’s interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve said yesterday that the government’s aim is to shape “an Islam deeply rooted in the values of the Republic”.
The new Islamic foundation in France – home to four million Muslims – will be under the chairmanship of former defence minister, Jean-Pierre Chevènement, and will act as a “bridge between the French state and the country’s Muslims”, said the interior minister.
One branch of the foundation, which will be run by tolerant religious figures, will work on the financing of mosques.
The second will encourage cultural projects and help finance imam training.
Between 1,600 and 1,800 imams are currently based in France, but most have been trained abroad.
All foreign-trained imams will be replaced with imams trained in France.
To combat the rise in extremist Muslim preachers, more than 80 imams have been deported since 2012, but this alone is not enough.
Yesterday, Bernard Cazeneuve announced his decision to replace “all foreign-trained imams with imams trained in France”.
According to the interior minister, the French State can no longer accept that the majority of its imams are being trained in theological institutions based abroad, and one of the Foundation for Islam’s priorities will be to help standardise and centralise imam training.
Mr Cazeneuve also said he wanted to give university students – and imams – the option to study ‘Islamology’, a “strictly secular” course which would cover a wide range of topics including Arab literature, and the history of the Muslim faith.