The Great Mosque of Paris, the French Council of Muslim Worship (CFCM), the Council of Mosques of the Rhone… At the time of the riots after Nahel’s death, the main Muslim institutions called for calm and appeasement.
Whether “misunderstanding, pain and anger are legitimate following such a tragedy”assured Chems-eddine Hafiz, the rector of the Great Mosque of Paris, on June 29, he called the young “not to react with violence but to make their voices heard and to mobilize peacefully so that the memory of Nahel is respected and so that justice is done”. The rector had invited the imams of his federation to convey this message during their Friday sermon.
At the same time, Muslim influencers, including imams, have followed suit, sometimes hosting Q&A sessions with their social media followers.
Different public speeches that are debated within the community. Indeed, the rioters did not use religious motives in their actions. “It is the role of a religious institution and of men of faith to show that appeasement is the only possible and constructive path to access truth and justice”, pleaded Chems-eddine Hafiz.
The public positioning of Muslim actors can also be interpreted as a way of defending themselves against accusations from far-right activists, who are quick to relay videos of riots where the expression ” God is great “ can be pronounced. An attitude explicitly denounced by the French Council for Muslim Worship in its press release of June 29: “Seeing religion, especially Islam, behind every tragic event is a sickly and malevolent obsession. »
Torn Muslim authorities
This tendency to controversy has not facilitated the position taken by Muslim actors. “If they intervene, they can be accused of Islamizing the riots, when a priori nothing links these two subjects, analyzes Haoues Seniguer, lecturer at Science Po Lyon and specialist in the relationship between Islam and politics. But they are also institutions involved in the associative fabric. Failure to react would be a resignation from their civic engagement. »
Moreover, he remarks that the Muslim authorities have resorted to civic rhetoric to call for calm, proscribing Koranic arguments. However, the position of the French Council for Muslim Worship has been criticized by several imams and researchers, including Haoues Seniguer. They disputed the very fact that this institution which “aims to organize Muslim worship in France, even if it has been disavowed by the government”speaks out on the riots, specifies the academic.
The CFCM then issued a second press release two days later, to reiterate its “call for appeasement and reason”. ” We do this, not as leaders of the Muslim faith but as citizens concerned about security and peace in our country,” so pointed out the authors.
“The Koran has always condemned disorder”
The imams who officiate on social networks are not bound by the same obligations, and have not hesitated to use religious arguments to call for an end to the disorder. This is the case of Rachid Eljay, the former imam of Brest with a rigorous tendency.
“Is it fair to burn down a town hall when many of us are waiting for their passports to go on vacation, or want to get married and won’t be able to do so? », he asks in a YouTube video seen by more than 270,000 people in four days, before continuing: “Where is the justice in all of this? It is called al-fawda, the anarchy. Islam, the Koran and the sunnah of the Prophet have always condemned disorder, rebellion and anarchy. Always ! » The imam also recalls that the policeman involved in Nahel’s death has been imprisoned. “That’s what justice is” he says. Haoues Seniguer interprets these positions as “a victory for the republican frame of reference, even over the most rigorous currents of Islam”.
But are these different discourses heard and do they have a real impact on young people? “We must not ignore the role of Muslim influencers, who can have an impact on the decline of disorder”, believes Mihaela-Alexandra Tudor, university professor at Paul-Valéry University in Montpellier and specialist in the links between media, religion and politics. ” The young people who took part in the riots tend to be on the fringes of religious institutions, even if some may also declare themselves to be Muslims. » To answer precisely, the researcher underlines the need for a sociological survey to better understand the profile of the rioters.