First meeting of the body aimed at curbing the rise of Islamism in France

Correspondent in Paris



The Forum of Islam of France (Forif), conceived by the president, Emmanuel Macron, to contain and combat the new forms of radicalization of French Muslims, met for the first time over the weekend.

The Forif is the umpteenth institution conceived by governments of the left and right (from Mitterrand to Sarkozy) to try to control the spread of Islamism. As the state organization of French Muslims, the Forif will replace the French Council of Muslim Worship (CFCM), created by Nicolas Sarkozy in 2003, with the same strategic objectives.

The CFCM had an original vice: the political management of French Islam was controlled by the main countries -Morocco, Algeria, Turkey, among others- that financed 2,630 mosques and places of worship.

That funding allowed Muslim countries to control the operation of all functioning mosques in France. At the same time, the political and religious conflicts between the different branches of French Islam created new fronts of crisis and tension, facilitating the spread of new radical variants.

Burying the CFCM, replacing it with the Forif, Macron makes a radical change in the political management of French Islam. The new organization of Islam will be directed by over a hundred imams directly elected by the Government, creating working groups with specific missions: «Application of the Law for the control of the principles of the Republic» (Law against Islamic separatism), « professionalization of imams under government control”, “selection of Muslim army chaplains”.

It is a radical change in the history of the French Government’s relations with Islam, in a country with an official population of 6 to 7 million French Muslims.

The principles of the Republic

The Forif will be a new armed branch of the Law of August 24, 2021 on Respect for the principles of the Republic, creating new legislation to legal and police repression of the crime of Islamic separatism, regulating instruction and family contracts (virginity, marriage imposition), obliging associations, places of worship and mosques to respect the basic principles of the secular and republican State.

The Law of Respect for the Principles of the Republic fully entered into force at the beginning of this year. But his police principles have been applied since last year. Between January and November 2021, the State security forces carried out 24,573 controls and 704 closures of establishments or associations of a very diverse nature were completed. During the last eight months, 99 mosques suspected of radicalization were controlled, 36 have been closed and the rest will have to undergo new stricter controls.

The new legislation and the Forif will have to deal with the underlying problems. It is suspected that some 100,000 French Muslims have “temptations of radicalization”. Controlling the economy and finances of places of worship, controlling the comings and goings of many Muslim faithful, the imams chosen by the Government to be part of the Forif will have to combat the new forms of Islamist radicalization, among French confessional Muslims.

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