France seeks new chapter in Muslim relations
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. –