France to tighten control over mosques, language courses


France is set to tighten foreign financing of its mosques, end the nomination of imams by foreign countries and withdraw permission for other countries’ control of native language courses, as part of a campaign against political Islam, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday.

The campaign by French President Emmanuel Macron, which arrives as he looks to elicit support from rightwing voters ahead of local elections in March, is aimed at fighting against what he calls Islamist “separatism” in some French cities, it said.

It is “unacceptable” for anyone to disobey the laws of the French republic in the name of a religion or a foreign power,’’ Macron said. “The republic must keep its promises, we must fight against discrimination, we must put meritocracy everywhere”.

France’s language courses for 80,000 pupils learning Arabic, Turkish and other languages from their countries of origin, create “an important vector of separatism” given that many of the teachers did not speak French or care about French culture, the French president said.

Many of the imams appointed to France, were linked to Salafism or the Muslim Brothers and “preach against the republic,’’ Macron said, adding that the country would “will train imams in France so they learn the language and the laws of the republic.”

Macron said that France could not come to an agreement with Turkey over foreign teachers.

“I still have hope, but if Turkey cannot come to terms, then France will provide this education itself,’’ Voice of America Turkish quoted Macron as saying.

Turks living in France are French just like all other people living in the country, he said, adding, “Turkish laws are unacceptable on French soil.’’

Macron’s statements arrive amid growing concern in France about the influence of Islamist radicals in communities with predominantly north African immigrant populations.

The country is home to 5.7 million Muslims.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has previously criticised Macron for his use of the expression “Islamic terrorism,” and Ankara has condemned a French draft law proposal adopted by Senate last year calling for mothers wearing the Muslim headscarf to remove them when participating in school trips.



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