French President Emmanuel Macron has asked the country’s Muslim leaders to accept a charter of “republican values” which states that Islam is not a political movement and prohibits “foreign interference” in Muslim groups.
On Wednesday he gave the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) a 15-day ultimatum to accept the charter.
BBC reported that CFCM has agreed to create a National Council of Imams which will reportedly issue imams with official accreditation which could be withdrawn.
The French President has strongly defended French secularism in the wake of the attacks, which included the beheading of a teacher who showed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad during a class discussion last month.
In a meeting attended by head of the French Council of the Islamic Faith, Mohamed Mousavi and the dean of the Paris Mosque, Shams El Din Hafez, in addition to representatives of the nine federations that make up the French Council of the Islamic Faith (CFCM), Macron warned that “if some do not sign this charter, we will draw conclusions,” adding that he “took note of their proposals”.
Depending on the role of the imams, they will need to have a certain fluency in the French language and possess university-level academic qualifications.
President Macron has also announced new measures to tackle what he called “Islamist separatism” in France. The measures include a wide-ranging bill that seeks to prevent radicalisation. It was unveiled on Wednesday, and includes measures such as:
- Restrictions on home-schooling and harsher punishments for those who intimidate public officials on religious grounds
- Giving children an identification number under the law that would be used to ensure they are attending school. Parents who break the law could face up to six months in jail as well as large fines
- A ban on sharing the personal information of a person in a way that allows them to be located by people who want to harm them
Earlier this year, President Macron described Islam as a religion “in crisis” and defended the right of magazines to publish cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. Such depictions are widely regarded as taboo in Islam and are considered highly offensive by many Muslims.
Following these comments, the French leader became a figure of hate in several Muslim-majority countries. Protesters have also called for a boycott of French products.