French media is reporting that the French government will dissolve an umbrella organization that acted as an interlocutor between the government and Muslim leaders. According to the government, the organization was under too much foreign influence and will be replaced by a “forum.” According to the RFI report:
February 1st, 2022: In what’s being described as a decisive period for Islam in France, the French Council of the Muslim Faith (Cfcm) – an official interlocutor between the government and religious leaders – is to be dissolved and replaced with a grassroots-style “forum”. The Forum of the Islam of France (Forif), to be launched by President Emmanuel Macron on 5 February, is a complex process that will take place in the same venue where a Citizens Climate Assembly was set up to advise the government on its strategy to mitigate global warming. “We want to launch a revolution, trying to put an end to consular Islam, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin told daily newspaper Le Parisien. “Islam is not a religion of foreigners in France, but a French religion that should not depend on money or foreign authorities.” Authorities had been working with the Cfcm, an elected body, since former president Nicolas Sarkozy was in power, but Darmanin said the council was no longer fulfilling its role because it had come under the influence of too much consular interference. Media reports say the Council has been in its death throes for years, undermined by internal dissent, the growing influence of countries such as Turkey, and radical elements. The signing of a charter of secularism at the beginning of 2021 did not meet with consensus within the body, with three federations refusing to adopt it. Analysts say that burying the long-standing Cfcm and betting on a new style of organisation closer to ordinary Muslims is a bold move for Macron.
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As demonstrated by GIOR’s November 2020 analysis of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (Conseil Français Du Culte Musulman, CFCM), many of the organizations within it are tied to foreign and transnational influence actors, notably Morocco, Algeria, and Turkey, as well as the Global Muslim Brotherhood and the Tabligh movement.