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Islam and Muslims in France: French Muslims for New Blood

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  • Zafar Khan
    French Muslims for New Blood By Hadi Yahmid, IOL Correspondent Tue. Jan. 29, 2008
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 24, 2008
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      French Muslims for New Blood
      By Hadi Yahmid, IOL Correspondent
      Tue. Jan. 29, 2008


      PARIS — French Muslims want new blood injected into
      the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), the
      country's main representative body, to redress
      deficiencies and wipe the slate clean.
      "Five years after the council came into being, it is
      time for a second reading to its policies," Larbi
      Kechat, the rector of the Ad Dawa mosque in Paris,
      told IslamOnline.net.

      "The outgoing councilors admit deficiency, which makes
      more pressing the need to redress shortcomings."

      The council was created in 2003, with the support of
      then Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, to represent
      the sizable minority of nearly seven million before
      the government.

      On June 8, the CFCM will hold its third general
      elections, which will see some 5,232 mosque
      representatives casting the ballot to choose a
      65-member general assembly.

      Fourteen days later the new assembly will elect 17
      members to the council's board, who in turn will elect
      a president.

      Incumbent CFCM president Dalil Boubakeur, the rector
      of Paris Grand Mosque, has expressed a desire to run
      for a third three-year term.

      But sources privy to the council's circles say he does
      not enjoy enough support for a new tenure.

      They are particularly critical of the CFCM's poor
      achievements over the past five years and its
      mishandling of key Muslim issues like hijab and

      Many members believe it did not respond properly the
      reprinting of Danish cartoons lampooning Prophet
      Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) in 2006.

      Had it not been for Sarkozy's staunch backing in 2005,
      Boubakeur would not have been reelected.

      New Blood

      Haydar Demiryurek, the deputy head of CFCM, and Foad
      Alawi, deputy head of the Union of Islamic
      Organizations of France (UOIF), have already announced
      their election bids.

      Alawi stands the chance of a landslide victory thanks
      to the great leverage wielded by the UOIF at many of
      France's mosques.

      But he will not get the crucial state backing, which
      could represent a stumbling bloc to his election, over
      the UOIF's reported links to the Muslim Brotherhood.

      Demiryurek, however, is could win favor with state
      officials who see him as "liberal and open minded" as

      Well-placed sources say that Demiryurek, who has
      Turkish origin, is not very popular among the
      council's incumbent board members, only three of them
      are of Turkish background.

      But Demiryurek, the head of the Steering Committee of
      France's Turks, plays down the ethnic factor.

      "We are French Muslims at the end of the day," he told

      "The country of origin is supposed to be a secondary
      issue," he insists.

      "What's really important is one's vision and future
      projects for the welfare of French Muslims."

      Muslims Lead Paris Slates
      By Hadi Yahmid, IOL Correspondent
      Mon. Jan. 28, 2008


      PARIS — Left or right, centrist or independent, Muslim
      candidates are leading a potpourri of party slates for
      the upcoming municipal polls in the French department
      of Seine-Saint-Denis, better known as L'neuf Trois and
      home to the largest Muslim concentration in France.
      "We want French of immigrant backgrounds, especially
      Muslims, to be heavily represented in municipal
      elections," Youssef Alzawi, who is leading the
      independent Bobigny for All list, told IslamOnline.net
      Monday, January 28.

      "Our election list features a mosaic of candidates; We
      have Muslims and non-Muslims from different

      Running for the first time in French elections,
      Alzawi's program in the city of Bobigny, in which
      citizens of immigrant blood make up nearly 21 percent
      of its 46,000 population, pays undivided attention to

      "We are targeting the marginalized youth and want to
      re-channel money wasted by incumbent councilors into
      educational and cultural programs for youths."

      Three years ago, Seine-Saint-Denis, located north-east
      to Paris, was the scene of the worst youth riots
      France witnessed in decades after the death of two
      young men of immigrant background while fleeing

      The deaths ignited pent up frustration among the
      department's youth, many of North African origin, at
      racism, unemployment, marginalization and mistreatment
      by police.

      Leila Bouzidi, a French Muslim of Algerian descent, is
      also leading slate of the ruling Union for a Popular
      Movement (UMP).

      French municipal elections will be held on March 9 and
      16. Up for grabs are all city mayors and municipal
      councilors in France's 100 departments.

      France is home to some six to seven million.

      Win-win Situation

      Pascale Monftfort, a 36-year-old Muslim revert, is
      leading the Socialist Party's slate for the city of
      Aunlnay Sou Bois.

      "I'm running to become a representative of all French;
      Muslims and non-Muslims," he said.

      Monftfort, 36, is facing competition from two fellow
      Muslims: Rezak Bezzaouya for the independent Le Modem
      movement; and Mokhtar Farahat representing the UMP.

      In Aubervilliers, Faycal Menia is leading the UMP

      "I was picked by the UMP since I have been active in
      Aubervilliers since 2002," he said.

      Menia is campaigning for improving security and
      economic conditions in the city.

      "Our campaign focuses on lowering unemployment rates,
      increasing public funding and improving housing and
      city planning.

      "We also want to build a new mosque for Muslims in the
      city because the existing mosque is bursting at the
      seams with worshippers."

      Hasan Farsado, leader of the Union of Muslim
      Association in Seine-Saint-Denis, said the potpourri
      of Muslim-led slates is a win-win situation for French

      "It is definitely a healthy phenomenon," he said.
      "Muslim are going to benefit from this competition."

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