Some eighty actors of the Muslim faith from many departments met in Paris, Saturday, February 5, for the first plenary meeting of the Forum de l’islam de France (Forif), supported by representatives of the central office of worship of the ministry inside. Gérald Darmanin, who took part in the afternoon, saw in this event the birth of a new “national dialogue body” representatives of the second religion of France with the State. It is planned to meet once a year.
This forum is not intended to be a permanent structure, but rather a framework intended to discuss and settle with the public authorities the concrete difficulties faced by the actors of the Muslim faith today. “From now on, there will no longer be a single representative of the Muslim religion for the government” most “groups organized by theme to achieve concrete results”, summarized the Minister of the Interior.
“Funding is the sinews of war”
The participants presented the first proposals which they arrived at in the four working groups devoted to chaplaincies, the status and training of imams, the application of the law consolidating respect for the principles of the Republic (CPRP) and the fight against anti-Muslim acts. Evacuated from the preparatory work because it immediately arouses tensions and conflicts of interest, the question of financing did not however take long to arise… and to provoke tension.
Today, funding circuits often lack transparency, whether within mosques, travel agencies that organize pilgrimages or in the halal circuit. They are also insufficient to finance the training of worship personnel (imams and chaplains) and their remuneration. Hence, moreover, the presence for years of three hundred imams employed by Turkey, Algeria and Morocco and seconded by these States to French mosques, which obviously lightens the burden of these places of prayer.
Saturday morning the idea of a fifth working group devoted to this financial issue came up. The essayist Hakim El Karoui presented his project for the Muslim Association for Islam in France (AMIF), which he has been proposing for three years. The AMIF would be a certification company for travel agencies involved in the pilgrimage and whose ambition, in the long term, would be to be able to finance projects. An agreement between France and Saudi Arabia is said to be under negotiation concerning the management of the 25,000 visas issued for the hajj.
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