French media is reporting that the National Council of Imams, a newly established supervisory body overseeing the training of the country’s imams, includes two French Global Muslim Brotherhood leaders. According to the L’Alsace article:
March 9, 2021 Under pressure from the government, the Muslim faith continues to take steps to better organize itself. After the charter of the principles of Islam presented this January by the CFCM (French Council of the Muslim Faith), comes the National Council of Imams. It is intended to supervise the recruitment of ministers of religion, to “label” the imams in a way, but also to accompany their training. (…) At the start, only five federations are part of what is still only a draft of the national structure. Each has two representatives. [Translated from French using DeepL.]
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The article goes on to state these representatives include Franco-Algerian imam Messaoud Boumaza from the Musulmans de France (MF), and Larbi Bechri, Scientific Director of the educational facility Institut Européen des Sciences Humaines (IESH) in Château-Chinon, which was co-founded by MF’s predecessor organization. Both organizations are tied to the Global Muslim Brotherhood, a transnational Islamist influence network covered by the Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR).
The National Council of Imams was set up after pressure from the French government to free the country’s imam education from foreign influence as part of a broad clampdown on Islamism. In October 2020, the GIOR reported that French President Macron had held a speech announcing a tougher stance on groups accused of radicalism, carrying out dozens of raids and temporarily shutting down mosques. A 2018 study on Islamic institutions in France concluded that Islamists have an “intellectual monopoly” over public debate among Muslims in France and that the state should intervene to limit foreign influence over worshippers.
Other reporting by the GIOR about Global Muslim Brotherhood groups trying to influence French politics regarding Islam has 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, are influencing France’s official Muslim representative body.
- A November 2020 report that the US Muslim Brotherhood had issued a statement condemning Macron, accusing him of Islamophobia and warning his nation, was steering towards its past colonial racism.
- A March 2021 viewing recommendation of a documentary examining how a Qatari charity described as the “religious soft power of Doha” is funding numerous European Islamic Centers, including those in France.