the uncertain role of Morocco in the training of French imams

the uncertain role of Morocco in the training of French imams

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin visited Morocco on April 21 and 22, while relations between Morocco and France are in the midst of a warming phase, after nearly two years of diplomatic cold. On this occasion, the one who is also responsible for religions notably met the irremovable Moroccan Minister of Islamic Affairs, Ahmed Toufiq, in office for more than twenty years.

Morocco plays a leading role in French Islam, through the financing and construction of mosques or the sending of chanters during Ramadan via the Union of Mosques of France (UMF).

Gérald Darmanin notably discussed with Ahmed Toufiq the end of the system of seconded imams in France, but also the question of the training of imams. In February 2020, in his speech in Mulhouse “on the fight against Islamist separatism”, the President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron had displayed his desire that “we have imams who are trained in France”.

A 180-degree turn on the part of the French authorities since, in 2015, President François Hollande presided, in Morocco, over the signing of a “joint declaration” for the training of French imams at the Mohammed-VI Institute in Rabat. The latter had just been created to train foreign imams.

Training that is struggling to see the light of day in France

The UMF was responsible for overseeing the selection of French candidates. “Between 2015 and 2020, around a hundred people, including a majority of imams and around fifteen morchidates (preachers, Editor’s note), were trained there. The Covid crisis then made it difficult to continue classes in Morocco. And we understood, after the Mulhouse speech, that the State no longer wanted French imams to be trained abroad, so we did not relaunch the formula. describes Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the UMF.

A diplomatic source assures that the French authorities had indicated to the Moroccan authorities, from the beginning of 2020, that they wanted this training to end. Which did not prevent the French Interior Minister from declaring, according to the official Moroccan agency MAP: “We are very attentive to the training of imams and how Morocco can help us in this area. » A statement confirmed by the French embassy, ​​and which adds to the vagueness on the subject.

Because if the French State preaches for the creation of training courses on French soil, they are struggling to see the light of day. The Ministry of the Interior highlights to The crossmoreover, the creation of 36 university diplomas (DU) of “secularism and understanding of religion”, intended for Muslim religious personnel. “The State, however, has no way of imposing the obtaining of these DUs so that imams can practice, except for chaplains”, comments Bernard Godard, specialist in French Islam.

For his part, Mohammed Moussaoui notes the difficulties in setting up the Islamica Institute, created in Strasbourg in 2022 to ensure the training of imams: partnership deemed unsatisfactory with the University of Strasbourg, cost of living for students, etc. The president of the UMF thus does not rule out relaunching the training program for French imams at the Mohammed VI Institute, where the costs were covered by the Moroccan state, which paid a scholarship to the students. “We would like to do it in good agreement with the State, he continueslike between 2015 and 2020.”

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