Le Monde | • Updated | Interview
Nathalie Goulet, UDI Senator of Orne and rapporteur of an information mission on the subject, whose report was published on July 5, the priority is to end the principle of posted imams and establish a transparent foundation to centralize funding of Islam.
the influence of foreign countries in the organization of Islam in France is often denounced. Is it a reality?
Nathalie Goulet: The weight of some countries was a big surprise at the time of our report. But these are not necessarily those we think are the most influential. The Gulf countries are much less present than the “country of origin”, Algeria, Morocco and Turkey. These three states have a real influence through building funding, schools, training of imams and sending detached imams – who are public servants paid by their home country – and by through the governance of the french Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM).
Saudi Arabia is not the country that finances most of Islam in France. And is traditionally very careful that it finances, not to worsen an already bad reputation.
Manuel Valls said he was favorable to the temporary suspension of foreign financing of mosques. Y Are you also in favor?
The prime minister speaks to suspend foreign funding, but what will they be replaced? By funding from the Department of Public Service? It is desirable that there are more foreign financing, but it is a sham to suggest that the problem can be solved like this.
The question of financing of places of worship is incidental . The Louvre or the Arab World Institute are receiving foreign funding, seamlessly. Above all, we must work to end the principle of posted imams and that of French imams who will form in Morocco.
On the other hand, this proposal of Manuel Valls based on the idea that radicalization occurs in places of worship, which is not necessarily the case. By reducing the wing for the construction of mosques, we will go back to Islam of cellars where one can preach anything
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There are, according to your report, 301 imams posted to France for around 2500 Muslim places of worship. Why is this a problem?
There are 301 times the possibility for French citizens of Muslim faith, attend sermons led by imams who are not French and are paid by a foreign State. This is more problematic than the foreign financing of mosques. There it is not stone …
Turkish detached imams, for example, come under the heading of social workers, not imams. They speak broken French, have never seen an Armenian in their lives, do not know that France recognizes the Armenian Genocide. Most detached imams have never received education on the Holocaust, homophobia, death penalty … They do not have these important elements of context, or play a role in the community.
Today in France, the imam training is split and pay. It is often cheaper to go to train in Morocco. We must develop training that is approved, scientifically and religiously
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Why is this question of funding it is crucial?
it is considered that Islam is a religion like any other, but it is not given the means to be. Islam is a recent religion in the country, faced with an increase in its population. There is a need to catch up with respect to other religions. Muslim communities need to have structures, schools, mosques, associations premises. It is necessary that Muslims can practice their religion in a decent way.
Today, if a 14 year old daughter wants to wear hijab, she will look for a Muslim religious school, but there are very few . A Jewish child who wants to eat kosher and wear his kippa find him a Jewish school. The tensions are strongest in the Muslim communities because they do not have all the tools to practice their religion.
What are the tracks for a French funding of Islam? What do you think of the idea to revive an “foundation of Islam of France” , mentioned by Mr. Valls ?
We must reactivate the Foundation for the works of the Islam of France [created by decree in 2005] for all funds channeled through it. Those from abroad, and those of the French Muslim communities [it is they who finance, through donations, most of the costs of construction and maintenance of mosques - only twenty mosques were funded by organizations or foreign States] .
This foundation should have a joint governance with a representative of the State Council, a Treasury accountant. It should also implement cost accounting for the Algerian money is used for places of worship Algerian, Moroccan money to places of worship Moroccan … It is necessary, if we want to give them that communities agreement to this foundation. Algerians do not want to pay for the Turks, and vice versa, even if the idea of a place of worship Algerian has no meaning in France. If the establishment of this foundation was a failure there ten years is for governance reasons.
Once this foundation will be established and will function seamlessly, Muslims successful will give money and get a tax deduction. The first to put money into the account of the foundation it was ten years ago, where he is still is Serge Dassault [senator from Essonne and entrepreneur].
It is urgent for Muslim communities to organize themselves and to agree on this governance. It is for them to do so. I think things that were unimaginable ten years ago are obvious in the current environment, for reasons of security and cohesion of French society. These Muslims are primarily French
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Julien Dray (PS), Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet (LR) or François Bayrou (Modem) advocating the establishment of a “halal tax” to finance the Islam of France.
Legally, it is not possible to introduce a tax on a religious given [ "halal tax" may violate the constitutional principle of equality before tax. The funding target of Muslim Faith does not correspond to an objective of general interest to justify a difference in treatment between halal and non-halal]. And technically, a “halal tax” would be as impossible to implement because there is no unity around the concept of halal.
It would be possible is that representatives of the cult introduce themselves a private fee for service at the time of slaughter, to be set by the community, collected and sent to the foundation.
Do you see other ways to improve the funding of Islam in France?
We must develop Tracfin, the anti-money laundering unit attached to the Ministry of Finance, even if it works already. If abnormal payment arrives on the behalf of an association, whatever it is, it sends a signal immediately. You can not receive EUR 100 000 without TRACFIN know.
Muslim communities could also improve control of “zakat” (alms), establishing a guide of conduct that the money should be paid directly to approved associations. During the month of Ramadan, an average mosque in the Paris suburbs can collect almost one million euros.
Beyond funding, are there a problem of representation of Islam?
the establishment of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) was a necessity, we needed a partner to the state. But for years, this body has never managed to be representative. If I was president of the CFCM, I would open a major debate, I would put up a constituent assembly to review the articles, I would call young people and members of associations who may feel excluded to participate in the work, I would up principle a man or a woman, one vote … But it has to come from Muslims themselves. Maybe one day, young Muslims launch an online petition and create a great competitor organization
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