France seeks new chap­ter in Mus­lim re­la­tions

The Myanmar Times - - World -

FRANCE’S govern­ment is seek­ing to open a new chap­ter in re­la­tions with the coun­try’s Mus­lims fol­low­ing a sum­mer scarred by ji­hadist at­tacks and a ban on burki­nis that ratch­eted up com­mu­nal ten­sions.

In­te­rior Min­is­ter Bernard Cazeneuve met with senior Mus­lim rep­re­sen­ta­tives on Au­gust 29 and agreed that ef­forts to foster good re­la­tions will in­clude the cre­ation of an Is­lamic foun­da­tion, funded solely with money from within France.

But Prime Min­is­ter Manuel Valls urged a fight to de­feat what he termed “Is­lamist to­tal­i­tar­i­an­ism” which aimed at “frac­tur­ing democ­ra­cies, sti­fling in­di­vid­ual lib­er­ties and in­stalling a new so­cial or­der in which men dom­i­nate women”.

The con­tro­versy over the burkini, the full-body Is­lamic swim­ming gar­ment, looks set to con­tinue af­ter sev­eral may­ors said they would ig­nore a de­ci­sion by the coun­try’s top ad­min­is­tra­tive court to sus­pend the ban in one Riviera town.

Mr Cazeneuve said the aim of the dis­cus­sions was to forge “an Is­lam an­chored in the val­ues of the French Repub­lic”. He stressed how­ever that all re­li­gions had to re­spect France’s laws on the strict sep­a­ra­tion of re­li­gion and state.

The talks will lead to the cre­ation of a “Foun­da­tion for Is­lam in France”, which will aim to raise funds in France rather than abroad to en­sure the trans­par­ent sourc­ing of funds.

France’s sec­u­lar laws mean the foun­da­tion’s scope is lim­ited to ar­eas like ed­u­ca­tion and re­search. –

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