Arabic media is reporting the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) has called on the French government to stop interfering with the “privacy of Islam,” rejecting a new French Charter of Republican Values aiming to curtail foreign influence over Muslim groups and mosques. According to the Al Quds Al-Arabi article:
January 21, 2021 The International Union of Muslim Scholars called on the French government to stop interfering with the privacy of Islam, and to deal with it as it deals with other religions. In a statement by Professor Dr. Ali Al-Qarah Daghi, Secretary-General of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, the Union stressed that “the French mosque document contradicts the tenets of Islam and the freedom of belief guaranteed in all the world, including Paris.” [Translated from Arabic using Google.]
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The French Charter of Republican Values comes as part of new French policies incorporating Muslim faith leaders in the fight against radicalism and “Islamic separatism” among the country’s growing Muslim population. After the beheading of a French geography teacher who had shown caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad to his class in mid-October 2020, the country’s government ordered a crackdown on groups accused of radicalism, carrying out dozens of raids and temporarily shutting down mosques.
Founded in 2004, the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) is an international body of Muslim theologians based in Doha, Qatar, whose leadership is closely tied to the Global Muslim Brotherhood (GMB), a transnational Islamist influence network covered by the Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR). Until recently, it was led by GMB spiritual guide Youssef Qaradawi. Several prominent European Muslim faith leaders tied to the GMB were IUMS members and/or have served as IUMS Trustees, including former Oxford University Islamic Studies professor Tariq Ramadan and Ahmed Jaballah, a senior leader in the French and Global Muslim Brotherhood. In December 2020, the IUMS encouraged a boycott of French products, dedicating a special online seminar to this issue. In March 2021, IUMS leader Ali Al-Qaradaghi sent an open letter to the French Minister for Citizenship, calling homosexuality an “aggression” against human nature and denouncing the Minister’s request for mosque imams to recognize the right to same-sex marriage in their sermons.
In February and March 2021, the GIOR reported an “International Coalition Against Islamophobia,” consisting of European civil society NGOs and groups tied to the GMB, had submitted a formal complaint against France to the UN Human Rights Council as well as a legal complaint letter to the President of the European Commission, demanding judicial and political action against France. While the signatories of the actions stated that they were organizations “comprised of or who represent French Muslim citizens,” only four out of more than forty were actually based in France. Among them is LALLAB, a so-called secular Muslim feminist organization that has been mired in controversy, including accusations of ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, which it denies. The complaint called President Macron’s Imam Charter to be discriminatory and weaponizing hatred against Muslims, ignoring that the Charter was approved unanimously by the French Council of Muslim Worship, representing Islam in its relations with the state.
Past reporting by the GIOR about Global Muslim Brotherhood groups trying to influence French politics regarding Islam has also included:
- An October 2020 report that the US Muslim Brotherhood had warned Muslims against traveling to France, aiding Turkish boycott efforts after France had pledged to tackle Islamist separatism.
- A November 2020 analysis of how foreign and transnational actors, including Global Muslim Brotherhood groups, influence France’s official Muslim representative body.
- A March 2021 report that a newly established supervisory body overseeing the training of the country’s imams included two French Global Muslim Brotherhood leaders.
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