Imam’s cautious welcome for French president speech

Plans announced by President Macron to combat “Islamic separatism” have been cautiously welcomed by the Grand Imam de Bordeaux.

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Tareq Oubrou told Connexion it at least shows a willingness to begin to face up to the extremely complex problems this issue raises.

The measures aim to “fight foreign influence” and “promote the [positive] organisation of the Muslim faith”, Mr Macron said at an event in Mulhouse, Haut-Rhin.

They include no longer allowing imams from other countries to enter France and an end to a scheme (ELCO) in which teachers from Algeria, Croatia, Italy, Morocco, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, Tunisia and Turkey come to France to teach their language and culture in schools, whether or not they speak French.

The President said: “I am not comfortable with the idea that in a school in the Republic, women and men are able to teach without [the] national education [system] having the slightest control. And we have no control, either, on the curricula that they teach.” Mr Oubrou told Connexion: “This is a problem that has lasted for 40 years.

“Integration has always been difficult for those with a non-European religion and culture.

“It is not only explicable in terms of religion. President Macron had to say something now, because of his election promises. He lays down the policies. Now we will see whether the government can implement the details.”

Mr Oubrou thinks more resources should be put into the “abandoned” areas where the poorer Muslims live, but at the same time, some Muslims should make more concessions to live within France’s set of values.

Hamou Bouakkaz, a Paris councillor of Algerian origin, reacted by saying: “We can say it’s the fault of the Muslims who do not want to integrate, but it is not true. The problem is: we put €10,000 towards a collège student in Paris, and €5,000 for one in a poorer area. We must stop trying to cure the symptoms and address the fundamental issues.”

See also: Simon Heffer comments here