Macron to Regulate French Islam in Campaign against Islamism

The ex-Muslim atheist Harris Sultan discussed the plans of French president Emmanuel Macron to tackle radical Islamic preaching in the country’s mosques in video with his co-host Nuriyeh Khan on their channel a few days ago. France, like Britain, has suffered a series of Islamist terror attacks, one of the worst being the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Macron has therefore decided to start clamping down on preaching in the mosques. He intends to set up a board that will monitor and censor the imams’ sermons. At the same time the importation of imams from abroad will be restricted and an emphasis placed instead on creating and promoting home-grown Muslim clergy. Sultan approves of these measures. He states that they were doubtless going to be greeted with shouts of ‘islamophobia’, but thinks that’s just BS. He also approved of the fact that Macron wasn’t trying to outlaw the wearing of the hijab. This became a major cause of Muslim outrage in France a few years ago when the government tried to ban it in schools because it was against the French state’s official policy of laicism, secularism. Out of a Muslim population of five million, only a few thousand women wear the headscarf and any ban on it would have the danger of pushing Muslims into the hands of the Islamists, not away from them. As for the proposed board, Harris states that French Muslims can’t really complain as such a board exists in Saudi Arabia, where every sermon has to be passed by the state censors. In his own country of origin, Pakistan, no such board exists and as a result the country has become increasingly radicalised.

Sultan is particularly appalled at religious intolerance and violence, not just in Islam, but also in Hinduism and other religions. He’s posted very many videos about blasphemy cases and lynching in Pakistan. The laws against blasphemy were first enacted by the British as a way of preventing inter-religious violence as they applied to all religions. However, General Zia imposed the death penalty for it and made them really apply only to Islam during his dictatorship in the 1970s. As a result there are 200 or so people on death row because of the law. It’s used against Christians, Hindus and other religious minorities, but also against other Muslims of different sects. Sometimes the accusation is levelled as a cynical means of getting rid of the opposition in a dispute over property. People have also been murdered and mass lynchings carried out of others, who’ve been accused of blasphemy. Hence Sultan’s desire to see the bitterly intolerant, fanatical preaching that fuels such hatred and violence curtailed.

I’ve also seen the other two proposals put forward nearly a quarter of a century ago in the ’90s by a liberal British imam in the pages of the Financial Times. He was felt it was also necessary to restrict the importation of foreign imams. At the time, and it may well still be the case now, there was a shortage of imams for British mosques. As a result foreign imams from countries like Pakistan were given greater preference when immigrating to Britain. And many of them shared the vicious intolerance present in their home countries. He wanted to see the education and promotion of imams from the already settled Muslim community, who shared the British values of pluralism, multiculturalism and tolerance.

I have mixed feelings about the idea of a board of censorship. It looks like another infringement of the right to free speech, one of the very cornerstones of western liberal democracy. But unfortunately I can also see that it may well be necessary, not just in France but also over here. Way back in 2007 Channel 4 caused a storm of controversy with an edition of its Despatches documentary, ‘Undercover Mosque’. The producers had secretly sent in their journalists to film the preaching in a hundred or so British mosques. In doing so they recorded the imams preaching violent hatred against Christians, Jews and gays. However, instead of outrage at the intolerance of the preachers, there was a storm of protest against the programme itself. It was accused of being islamophobic and one police force considered and finally decided against prosecuting the producers. I am very, very much aware that not all Muslims by any means hold these views, and it may be the case that rather than be influenced by them, their congregations listen politely before going back to work and forgetting all about it. But I do believe that such violently intolerant preaching is far more common than is realised. And while there’s a tendency to think that such a measure is only needed in France, I can also see it being demanded over here.

However the creation of a board to censor sermons may not work. In Egypt, Islamism has emerged in opposition to official, state-regulated Islam. Official Egyptian Islam has been more or less liberal since the early 19th century., when the Muslim clergy realised how far behind the west their country was in science and learning. They thus went on trips to Europe to research European advances in order to introduce them and their benefits back home. I have a feeling that the Egyptian state also closely monitors what is taught in the mosques. But the radical groups demanding the return of sharia law and the creation of a Muslim state, and which have carried out terrorist attacks on foreigners, has emerged outside and in opposition to mainstream Egyptian Islam. There’s a danger that this could also occur in France, and that the fanatics and terrorists will set up their own, underground, parallel set of mosques.

There’s also the problem that many of the terrorists are self-radicalised. They often don’t go to the local mosque, and the congregation there haven’t seen them in years. Instead of getting their weird, vile ideas from the local imam, they’ve got them instead from the net. Macron’s proposals aren’t going to help tackle this type of fanaticism, though the creation and expansion of a domestic French Muslim clergy may change the culture to such an extent that such lone wolf terrorists really are seen by everyone as total outsiders, whose views and actions violate a native French Islam.

The article from which Harris gets the report also states that Macron may well be putting these proposals forward in order to take votes away from the extreme right and boost his centrist party. He approves of this, stating that the centre and the left should be tackling this problem rather than the far right. And he’s correct. The far right uses such issues to create further hatred and division in order to legitimise the further persecution of ethnic minorities. You can see that with Tommy Robinson and his exploitation of the outrage over the Muslim grooming gangs. But unfortunately the left tends to be silent when it comes to anti-White racism. Some of this comes from a desire not to be accused of racism, some of it to avoid making a common cause with the right and people who really are racist, but also partly because they find anti-White racism literally unthinkable. This is shown in the attempts by Critical Race Theorists to redefine racism as abuse plus institutional power. This clearly criminalises White racism, but exempts it from marginalised Black and ethnic minority groups.

Macron’s proposals show that French politicians are taking an increasingly firm line over Islamic preaching, and it’s better that democrats like Macron do it than the country suffers a military coup. Which is what a group of ex- and serving army officers and men threatened a year or so ago.

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3 Responses to “Macron to Regulate French Islam in Campaign against Islamism”

  1. Brian Burden Says:

    The extremes of most religions are pretty unedifying – hence the carnage (avoidable, IMO) over which Mountbatten presided at Indian Independence. We had a WEA lecturer on Islam who had fought in Afghanistan and seen the error of his ways. He was an Imam and goes into UK prisons to teach the benign side of Islam to hard case Muslim prisoners. I gathered that in the past, extremist Imams had abused the system by going into prisons and preaching the opposite!

    • beastrabban Says:

      Really interesting, Brian, and more power to the imam’s elbow in turning the fanatics away from terrorism towards peace and tolerance. I think I’ve heard of other wannabe jihadis, who’ve joined the extremists only to find that they’re not what they thought they were.

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