Status of the imam, “federation of Islam”… Gérald Darmanin’s announcements in front of the Forif

Status of the imam, “federation of Islam”… Gérald Darmanin’s announcements in front of the Forif

When he raised the issue, a sigh of enthusiasm ran through the audience. In front of some 86 participants of the French Islam Forum gathered at Place Beauvau, Monday February 26, on the occasion of the second annual session of this platform for dialogue between the State and the Muslim faith, the Minister of the Interior notably announced the upcoming creation of an imam status. A measure eagerly awaited by those responsible for Muslim worship in France.

“Thanks to the Forif and our collective work, I announce that there will now be a status of imam in France”, declared Gérald Darmanin. “Most imams are French but do not have access to adequate structures, he elaborated. A major effort remains to be made so that believers in France have better trained religious executives, decently remunerated and fully integrated into French society. »

For this, the Minister of the Interior officially “asked Forif to work within six months on the creation of a status for imams in France”, believing that it was necessary “strengthen the training offer” in the country. And he divided the roles between theological and secular training : “For the State, training in what makes France and its specificity; to you (Muslim leaders), the theological and spiritual training of imams. »

“There is a political will to create a status for the imam”

Faced with this announcement, which comes shortly after that, at the end of December, of the end of the seconded imams, the Muslim actors present did not hide their enthusiasm. “It’s a big commitment,” reacted Yacine Hilmi, member of the working group on the status of the imam at Forif, who has been working on this subject for two years, and has already developed, with others, job descriptions specifying the functions of the imam and his qualifications. “We have been waiting for years for there to be a status of the imam. There, it’s certain that everyone will get to work,” he says, determined to answer the call from the Ministry of the Interior to be ready on time. In fact, according to various observers, the current vagueness on the status of imams in France delayed the question of their required training and that of their expected remuneration, and therefore contributed to making the profession unattractive. “We are now assured that there is a political will to create an imam status,” also analyzes Kalilou Sylla, imam of the Great Mosque of Strasbourg and also a member of Forif. “Previously, we weren’t absolutely sure. »

During his speech, the Minister of the Interior also committed to moving forward on another pressing issue: that of confessional squares in cemeteries. “Today, Muslims in France were born in France, grew up in France, work, live and raise their children in France, but have difficulty being buried in France, in their homeland, their land, due to lack of space in the confessional squares, he explained. By July 1, he committed, we will ensure that access to a grave is no longer a subject for our compatriots. » The Minister of the Interior thus ensures that he has asked the central office of religion as well as the General Directorate of Local Authorities to work on it ” right now. »

Finally, after recalling the confidence he has in the Forum de l’Islam de France, a structure desired by the Ministry of the Interior two years ago to turn the page on the CFCM, Gérald Darmanin indirectly addressed the thorny question of the representation of Islam in France, which the members of Forif had previously dismissed, defining it as a “dialogue instance” and not as a “representative body. »

“A federation of Muslim associations like there is a federation of Protestants”

“The organization, or rather the disorganization of Islam in France is our subject for the futurehe affirmed, welcoming the structuring at the departmental level of Islam, which took place in around forty departments. “It is not up to the State to preside over this structuring, but up to you,” he hammered to the actors, formulating an invitation to “see tomorrow a federation of Muslim associations as there is a federation of Protestants”.

The Ministry of the Interior thus greeted the actors of Forif who “have decided to make proposals” who, he says, “cannot join already known organizations which have shown their failure”. He thus allusively attacked the CFCM, which still exists and has just carried out its reform to also provide itself with a structure at the departmental level, despite the government’s disavowal.

The Forif has, in fact, equipped itself for this new session with two new working groups, which have been added to the first four: one on the resources and financing of cultural associations, and the other on the “territorial structuring of the actors of the Muslim faith. » “For me, the time has not yet come for the performance”, believes for her part Najat Benali, rector of the Javel mosque in Paris and member of this new group. “The objective at this stage is to get to know each other better among the actors and to learn to work together, to work better and better at the national level. »

The minister’s announcements in any case helped to perk up the Forif participants, some of whom, before the session, admitted to having experienced moments of skepticism in the face of the current political climate. “Several of us asked ourselves the question of renewing our presence at the Forif given the position of certain ministers on Islam, very vindictive at times,” confides a member, evoking among other things the ban on the abaya at the start of the school year, or even the outings of Gérald Darmanin accusing, for example, Karim Benzema of being a Muslim Brother.“For some of us, it was out of the question that the Forif would serve as a moral guarantee for the minister to then stigmatize Islam. »


An increase in anti-Muslim acts due to the war in the Middle East

The Minister of the Interior also indicated that 242 anti-Muslim acts had been recorded in 2023, an increase of 30% compared to the previous year. “We do not tolerate this,” insisted Gérald Darmanin. Nearly half of these acts were committed in the last three months of the year, i.e. after October 7, 2023, the date of the Hamas massacre in Israel. “This shows that the war in the Middle East has obvious resonances on our soil,” noted the minister, mentioning the acts committed against mosques and in particular the attempted fire on a mosque in Morlaix on January 13, and while anti-Semitic acts have also exploded. “As for all French people, I am the minister for the protection of believers, and therefore the protection of Muslims,” he said, referring to the creation within Forif, with the support of the State, of the Association for the Defense against Discrimination and Anti-Muslim Acts (Addam).

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