The president of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), Ahmet Ogras, has called on the French government not to interfere in the organisation of the country’s second-largest religion. His comments come in response to French President Emmanuel Macron’s announcement that he will try to redefine relations between Islam and the state.
“Everyone must stick to their role,” Ogras told the Reuters news agency in an interview. “The Muslim faith is a religion and, as such, takes care of its own household affairs. The last thing you want is the state to act as guardian.”
As reported by Al Jazeera, Macron, who was elected last May after a runoff victory over far-right leader Marine Le Pen, said in a February 11 newspaper interview he planned to revisit the way Islam was overseen.
“What I’d like to get done in the first half of 2018 is set down markers on the entire way in which Islam is organised in France,” he told the Journal du Dimanche. The priority would be to “bring back what secularism is all about”.
Traditionally Catholic France is home to the largest Jewish and Muslim communities in Europe, with the latter estimated at 6.5m out of a population of 67m.
The official rule is strict separation between religion and state, with the former considered a strictly private matter. The rule has been used to justify ban on the wearing of the Hijab, a headscarf worn by many Muslim women who feel it is part of their religion, by public service employees as well as any wearing of fully concealing head-to-toe veils in public places.