Turkey-allied French Muslims reject gov’t-backed charter

A new charter over principles of Islam, adopted on Monday by the French Council of the Muslim Faith, ignited a battle among French Muslisms, French newspaper Libération said on Tuesday.

The charter rebuffs instrumentalisation of Islam for political ends and promotes equality between men and women, while rejecting female circumcisions, forced marriages and "virginity certificates" for brides.

Two organisations with ties to Turkey’s Religious Affairs Turkish-Islamic Union (DİTİB), Coordinating Committee of Turkish Muslims in France (CCMTF) and the France National Viewpoint Confederation of Islam (CIMG), as well as a pro-Turkey group called Faith and Practice did not approve the text endorsed by the Macron administraiton, according to Libération.

The French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), which introduced the new charter, is a national elected body that functions as an official interlocutor with the French state to regulate Muslim religious activities in the country.

Some organisations have objected, saying the French government did not seek their consent. “We regret that this charter was signed on the one hand without having obtained the approval of all the components of the CFCM [...] and on the other hand without any consultation of the imams who are the primarily concerned,” Libération cited opposing groups as saying.

Organisations that favour Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have said “certain passages” in the charter were “likely to weaken the bonds of trust between Muslims in France and the nation.” According to the pro-Erdoğan groups, statements within the charter could “undermine the honour of Muslims with an accusatory and marginalising character.”

However, a government official who spoke to AFP said that the objection of the three organizations would not weaken the process, adding that "Their masks slipped".

The French government says that it seeks to keep its Muslim community away from the influence of foreign countries including Turkey and radical elements and to create an Islam for France.

Despite flare-ups in recent months over Turkey’s policies in the eastern Mediterranean and Libya, tensions between Paris and Ankara have subsided. The charter appears to be a new casus belli, Libération said, and that opposition to it could lead to a reorganisation of the representative body and the exclusion of opposing groups.

In December, the French government introduced a draft bill originally titled the “Anti-separatism Bill” to combat what it called radical Islamism.