Islam and Muslims in France: French Muslims for New Blood
- 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,
"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
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
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.
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
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
Leila Bouzidi, a French Muslim of Algerian descent, is
also leading slate of the ruling Union for a Popular
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.
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
"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."