France proposes move to control imams

France wants the country's imams to be "imbued with French culture" in order to control the spread of political Islam.

    Sarkozy sees radical Islam as a potential threat

    Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said on Thursday Paris should open

    a seminary to train imams to

    fight the spread of "Islamic fundamentalism".

    He added there ought to be "a training institute for the imams of France, who speak French, who are imbued with our culture".

    Sarkozy was the driving force behind the creation this year of

    a council to better integrate France's five million Muslims into

    society.

    Secular state

    He said two thirds of the 889 imams in France live on

    welfare and more than 60% do not speak French.

    In April, French Muslim groups elected a

    French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) to foster a

    better understanding of Islam in the staunchly secular

    state.

    Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin told the CFCM he

     expected it 

    to be the "enlightened voice of Islam" and to

    combat

    threats to the country's social cohesion.

    Many of France's five million
    Muslims feel disenfranchised

    French security officials say they see "radical Islam" as

    one of the major threats to the French state.

    The CFCM council is headed by Dalil Boubakeur, head of the

    moderate Grand Mosque of Paris which is favoured by the

    government.

    Discrimination

    But his group only came third in last April's

    voting, behind the more independent Union of Islamic Organisations

    in France.

    The group, whose doctrines are close to the

    Muslim Brotherhood, has gained ground in recent years among France's Muslims.

    Many of the country's Muslims have rediscovered their Islamic values in recent years.

    They complain of being discriminated against by the French government and have reported rising cases of Islamophobia

    .

    SOURCE: Reuters


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