The circumstantial electoral alliance between some republican political forces and representatives of a communitarian Islam that took place during these elections is increasingly disturbing.
By placing these self-styled protagonists, who consider themselves the only true representatives of the Muslims of France, in the forefront, our Republic is committing a grave mistake.
In this way, the Republic sells off its founding values, and risks retreating in the face of an aggressive political Islam which does not recognize itself in these values, and which has never wanted to abandon its socio-religious battle. This battle mixes issues such as unemployment and marginalization with religion, as well as all the delicate questions of the identity of French Muslims and their place in the national community.
The majority of these movements adopt an aggressive and confrontational strategy, and not a democratic and consensual one.
The main victims of these unnatural alliances risk being the indispensable and ineluctable reform movement of French Islam and the advance of the Enlightenment.
Between 2015 and 2019, in an immoral and illegal way, many French reformist imams were excluded from their posts as spiritual guides in certain mosques, from chaplaincies and from various charitable associations. The reason: their clear and strong condemnation of the Islamist terrorist attacks, their republican and humanist positions against hatred, separatism and radicalism.
For the republican imams, Muslim thought is reformable and evolutionary. The spiritual foundations of Islam are constant and immutable. But the Muslim elite must abandon the peremptory medieval fatwas, as well as undemocratic totalitarian methods, which impose conflicting and violent interpretations of Islamic religious texts.
The practice of a peaceful religious experience, more serene, human and above all compatible with modernity and contemporary humanistic values needs a courageous adaptation of Islam with European values and specificities. This will avoid an obligatory conflict, wanted and hoped for by Islamists who do not hide their intentions to Islamize Europe, without realizing that their suicidal strategy will lead to the end of Islam in Europe. European Muslims must in no way accept being held hostage in the hands of political Islam directed and financed by Qatar or Turkey. An independent and non-dominant European Islam may be able to adapt to local culture. Any foreign dependence means that Islam could become the cause of a serious and dangerous conflict that threatens social peace in a tolerant and welcoming continent, which for many decades has given so much to Islam and Muslims.
Unfortunately, republican Islam is set to enter a dark and more difficult period precisely because of that circumstantial Islamic-political alliance that emerged during the elections. Political Islam, strengthened by this opportunist alliance, will not fail to designate the republican Muslims and the leaders of these movements as the first victims, so as to bury any hope of adapting the Islam of France to the values of the republic and to the social and cultural characteristics of our democratic societies, values that have endured for centuries.
The humanist imams wept in communion with all the French people for the innocent souls who fell in the Islamist attacks of the Bataclan, of the Hyper Cacher, in Toulouse, in Brussels, in Nice. Now they risk being totally marginalized and disappearing, themselves victims of this storm.
The medium-term result of these alliances will tomorrow’s society increasingly move towards its radicalization, in which the majority of French Muslims, who reject this drift, will be increasingly isolated from the population.
This isolation, sown with hatred and violence, is the goal that the extremists hope for, the fertile ground in which to extend their project on their co-religionists. Stupidly, they dream in the short term of Islamizing French and Western society in its entirety, without realizing that this dominating and suicidal strategy, will mark the end of a peaceful and integrated Islam in France.
In his work “Territoires conquis de Islamisme [Territories conquered by Islamism]”, Bernard Rougier described what awaits us after these municipal elections, despite the efforts of ministers Castaner, Nunez and Belliubet to fight what, in his speech in Mulhouse, President Emmanuel Macron called “Islamist separatism”.
These municipal elections have made clear everywhere in France, the actions carried out by Islamists to seduce Muslim voters, thanks to the presence of Muslim candidates for some parties, who openly competed as Muslims. They are a part of the right-wing, of the ecologists and even of some of the republican right, all looking for voters who could ensure victory.
Instead of presenting themselves as citizens, French Muslims find themselves again taken hostage by conquering Islamism, which exploits the weakness of politicians, as well as the silence of the majority of Muslims, to present themselves as the only spokesmen for French citizens of Muslim confession.
At the local level, this entry of aggressive Islamism, hidden behind a façade of democratism, and through a pitying and intimidating communitarianism, can completely and irreversibly change the national political map and make it falter towards extremism.
In my opinion, the solution to this separatist drift can only be legalistic and republican.
Only a real, republican, voluntary emergency plan for the development, cultural integration, improvement in the daily and economic life of citizens who live in highly, often disadvantaged, Muslim neighbourhoods will be able to fight these “dream merchants” and limit the harmful influence of the various Islamist currents, which have proselytizing and separatist designs.
For those in power, the protagonists, the social workers, as well as for the imams linked to republican and human values, it is now time to take back these areas of ‘no-law’ in order to free them from the clutches of these extremist activists, to reintegrate them back into the place that is theirs: Within the national community.
(*) Imam of Nîmes – Vice-president of the Conference of Imams of France
[i] We thus translate the term “communautarisme”, which indicates a mentality that emphasizes the unity of a group and at the same time the separation from others in society, in a kind of self-ghettoization (ed).