Macron announces measures against ‘Islamic separatism’

French President Emmanuel Macron has announced a series of measures designed to combat “Islamic separatism” in France - including new rules on foreign imams and education.

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The measures will also aim to “fight foreign influence”and “promote the [positive] organisation of the Muslim faith”, Mr Macron said on a panel of ministers on Tuesday February 18, at an event in Mulhouse (Haut-Rhin).

France will gradually stop welcoming “detached imams” sent from other countries such as Turkey or Algeria, Mr Macron said, and would aim to increase the number of imams trained in France, instead.

Nor will France continue to permit the 300 or so extra religious leaders that would usually enter the country during the period of Ramadan, he said.


The country would also work to ensure that mosques are “funded in a transparent way” and that imams working in France are “respectful of our values”. Mr Macron said: “We need to know where the money is coming from, who uses it, and why.”

Currently, France has around 300 “detached imams” from abroad, who are recruited to fill a number of positions in mosques across the country. These include 150 from Turkey, 120 from Algeria, and around 30 from Morocco.

Yet, this number represents a small percentage of the number of imams in France, who operate across 2,500 places of worship. The exact number is not known, but it is estimated that there are 1,800 imams nationwide.


Mr Macron also said that from the rentrée 2020 (the new school year in September), France would no longer be providing classes in other languages, using curricula from other governments.

This scheme is currently known as “Elco” (enseignements de langue et de culture d’origine; language and culture teachings from the country of origin), and applies to nine countries - Algeria, Croatia, Italy, Morocco, Portugal, Serbia, Tunisia, and Turkey. It includes 80,000 pupils per year.

He said: “The problem we have today with this, is that we have more and more teachers who do not speak French, and for whom our national education is not relevant.

“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.

“We cannot be teaching things that are manifestly not compatible with the laws of the Republic, or history as we see it. From la rentrée 2020, the teaching of culture, and in foreign languages, will be removed from everywhere on Republic soil.”

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