Macron is quick to take on nationalism. What about Islamism?

…. Two years ago the same liberal think-tank published “A French Islam is Possible”, in which El Karoui said that despite the Islamification of many young French Muslims (half of under 25s surveyed said they would prefer Sharia Law to Republican Law), there was still time to win the ideological war.

The latest report (a copy of which is on Emmanuel Macron’s desk) suggests that the war is being lost. In 15 years, the number of Salafists has increased by 900 per cent and the estimated 50,000 is a conservative guess.

It may still represent a tiny fraction of France’s six million Muslims, but El Karoui warns that their influence grows steadily and he likens their appeal to that of communism – the dream of a utopia that will right all the wrongs of the world. “[Communism] was about activists, sympathisers and a local action group spreading an idea,” explains El Karoui. “We have these activists, we see them on social media, and we have these people who are trying to create an alternative society.”

“Separatism” is the word the French use for this strategy, the establishment of a “halal” society where everything must be cleansed of the corruptive influence of the West. “French society is perceived, by this minority of French Muslims, as illicit and impure, so they want to create in parallel a different society with its own rules, norms and behaviour,” says El Karoui. [The Spectator] Read more

French Muslims must resist Islamist extremists: Hakim El Karoui

French author calls for mobilisation against Islamists in bold call on President Macron to champion reform. The role of a revolutionary from within is never an easy one but for Hakim El Karoui that is exactly the challenge he has set himself as he seeks to change the place for Islam in French life.

The banker turned author can remember precisely when he realised that he could no longer remain on the sidelines as divisions rose within France. In the early days of 2015, the first of what would be a series of deadly attacks that rocked all France targeted the newspaper Charlie Hebdo and then a supermarket in Paris.

“I asked myself, can people like me do nothing?” he recalled to The National. “The answer to the question is obvious: no. I have been involved in the political debate for the past 15 years. I wrote several books on political and economic subjects and I decided that Islam was going to remain a private matter. But after the attacks I told myself that this was not going to be possible anymore.”

The author of a new report for the Institut Montaigne, Mr Karoui proposes a wholesale overhaul of the role of the French state in its relations with Islam. In the document he calls for an umbrella body that is more involved and seeks clearly defined outcomes. [The National] Read more

France Grapples With Proposals to Counter Radical Influences Among French Muslims

…. El Karoui pointed out that almost all responses to religious questions posted on Islamic websites are provided by preachers with Salafist outlooks or links.

The report’s proposal on increasing the learning of Arabic at schools – rather than at mosques – has sparked an uproar from conservative political parties.

Experts and some moderate imams argue that Arabic should be taught at schools like any other language, using grammar books rather than purely focusing on the Qur’an.

Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said he favors teaching Arabic at schools, but Republican lawmaker Annie Genevard said in a radio interview it was a mistake to think teaching it at school would keep Muslim children from learning at mosques, adding that the proposal “will not solve the problems of the rise of Salafism.” [] Read more

Halal tax and Arabic in French schools: the new ways to stop Islamic fundamentalism in France?

A new report by a Paris think-tank underlines “the progress of Islamist ideology among Muslims in France”, suggesting that Salafi Islam can be stamped out through a “halal tax” and Arabic being taught in French schools.

According to the report released on Sunday by France’s Montaigne Institute, Salafism – a radical branch of Islam that calls for worldwide sharia law – has a monopoly on Islamic religious thought in l’Héxagone.

Author Hakim El Karaoui, a consultant for the Paris think-thank who’s written on Arab and Muslim policy before, points to Turkey and Saudi Arabia as the main sources of funding for the dissemination of this radical school of thinking among France and Europe’s Muslim population.

The Montaigne Institute study highlights that this opaque financing pays for the promotion of Arabic learning among France’s Muslims at institutions that have a marked fundamentalist political-religious stance rather than just a linguistic one, the report suggests.

Through these obscure Islamic schools Salafi indoctrination “is gaining ground in France”, especially among “young people under 35”, El Karaoui suggests. [The Local] Read more

Macron to review report calling for reform of Islam in France

Islamists have an “intellectual monopoly” over public debate among Muslims in France and the state must intervene to limit foreign influence over worshippers, according to a new report submitted to President Emmanuel Macron.

The 617-page report, “The Fabric of Islam,” presents a comprehensive plan for reform of Islamic institutions in France following a call from Macron to bring them under the aegis of the state. During a July address to lawmakers at the Palace of Versailles, Macron committed to giving Islam “a framework and rules” by the fall. His goals: discouraging insular Muslim communities and combating extremist strands of the religion.

“Muslims, notably the young, inform themselves of the religion more and more on social media,” warned the report’s author Hakim El Karoui on BFM TV on Monday, adding that Salafist-aligned Saudis play a disproportionate role online.

His report, which was unveiled Sunday and published by liberal think tank Institut Montaigne, calls for the development of a “French Islam” — an autonomous, France-centric branch of the faith that would respond to French law. El Karoui, an essayist and ex-Rothschild banker, is also the nephew of former Tunisian Prime Minister Hamed Karoui. [POLITICO] Read more