FRANCE & CHARTER OF PRINCIPLES

https://www.bbc.com

Writer: Hendra Manurung, is currently a doctoral candidate in international relations at Padjadjaran University, Bandung, West Java

The French government has agreed with Muslim organizations in the country regarding the charter of principles governing the synergistic relationship between the Muslim community and state.

The National Council of Imams finally sees the light of day. On January 17, 2021, after six weeks of negotiations and three weeks of the open crisis, the nine federations making up the French Council of Muslim Worship (CFCM) agreed on the text of a Charter of Principles (Lemonde.fr, January 17, 2021). It should serve as a reference for a National Council of Imams (CNI), an emanation of the CFCM, the principle of which was enacted in November 2020. This Council is supposed to award certifications to ministers of the Muslim faith who request them.

The charter of principles agreed and signed by President of the French Muslim Faith Council, Mohammed Moussaoui witnessed by French President, Emmanuel Macron, at the Elysee Palace, Paris on January 18, 2021. The signing was carried out after a day earlier Mussaoui agreed on the points of the charter issue with the Minister of Home Affairs, Gerald Darmain.

Macron has firmly defended French secularism following the latest attacks, including the beheading of a teacher who displayed a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad during a class discussion in October 2020, as he also announced new steps to tackle what he called Islamic separatism in France (bbc.com). Previously, Samuel Paty, a teacher who was beheaded outside his school, was the target of an online hate attack before his death on October 16, 2020.

Understanding religion requires interpretation and appreciation, not only as an aspiration that creates a narrow, symbolic, and formalistic interpretation of religion. Faith in religion should be an inspiration.

Max Weber reveals in his book, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (2005), which is pioneering research and new approach in the 20th century, regarding the creative role of religion in social change and cultural formation. Cultural change occurs when humans apply reason in social life. It is called rationalization, which ultimately leads society to dominate technology and bureaucracy as well as a pragmatic orientation and efficiency. The tendency towards rationalization grew and was driven by religion itself. This rationalization led to the elimination of religion from culture and society and the creation of a secular world. This millennium era has had a major influence on information technology literate societies in giving birth to new public civilizations.

Religion is an important factor in sustainable social change. It is believed that religion is the source of inspiration for the dynamics of social change, not religion as the affirmation of the structure of civil society. Religion provides a framework of meaning, inspiration to the world and human behavior, a perspective with the meaning of how humans understand the world around them, their activities, living space they are in, the time that governs their lives, and their future, including their death.

Earlier, in November 2020, French President Emmanuel Macron issued an ultimatum to the French Muslim Worship Council (Conseil Fran├žais du Culte Musulman), to sign the Republican Values Charter. Through this ultimatum over the next 15 days, the French Muslim Worship Council was asked to sign the agreement. The ultimatum comes amid accusations that Macron’s government is stigmatizing Muslims following three separate terrorist attacks, which the public condemns.

Further, President Emmanuel Marcon also wants the CFCM to declare publicly that Islam is only a religion and not a political movement, in addition to wanting to stop other Muslim countries in the world from helping the Muslim community of France beleaguered by what Paris perceives as foreign interference in domestic affairs.

France’s largest Muslim charity, BarakaCity, has been shut down by the French Interior Minister, Gerald Darmanin, without judicial oversight.

At least, there are 10 main points from the charter of principles. Among them, there is an agreement to reject attempts to utilize Islam for political purposes and emphasize the importance of equality between men and women. The charter also denounces old practices, such as female circumcision, forced marriage, and virginity certificates for brides. It is also stated that no religious belief can be used as an exception to the obligations of citizens.

The charter also states explicitly its rejection of racism and anti-Semitism. It was also stated that mosques in France were not built to spread nationalist speeches defending foreign regimes. According to Moussaoui, the charter affirms the perfect compatibility between Muslim beliefs and the principles of the French Republic, including secularism and the commitment of French Muslims to their citizenship.

It is realized that the agreement on the charter can be an instrument to enter a new chapter of synergy between Muslims in France and the government of that country. Currently, about 4 to 5 million Muslims in France, this is the largest number of Muslims in the Western European region. Their existence and influence are often in the spotlight when cases of radicalism and terrorism emerge on the blue continent. This includes the murder case of a teacher showing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in Charlie Hebdo magazine while giving lessons in class in mid-October 2020.

Emmanuel Macron as the leader of a major country in the European Union (EU) attempts his best to find the best solution to the tensions between the government and the French Muslim community. Macron asked Muslim leaders in France to formulate the principles of this relationship. The CFCM has formed nearly 20 years ago as a forum for ongoing dialogue between the Muslim community and the French government, offers principles for this relationship. However, there have been weeks of debate within the CFCM, including on points that have made the three-member federations refuse to sign the charter.

However, the charter is very important as a foundation and guidance in managing equal relations between Muslims and the French state which has been full of tension, suspicion, and prejudice. For Macron’s government, the charter is a kind of clarification of the position of Muslims in France and their commitment to their country, so there is no need to raise suspicions and prejudice against each other. For the CFCM, the charter is also to show how the Muslim community in France can adapt to the principles of statehood in the republic.

The formal adoption of the charter by the CFCM federation paved the way for a massive restructuring of Islam in France, particularly with the creation of the Council National Imams Council which was responsible for labeling imams who practice in the country.

In any sovereign democratic state, the diversity that is rooted in culture can act as a human creative power to transform, develop dynamically and humanely in nation-building, and always open to responding to existing realities. Thus, it is through various dialogues of the values of faith and humanity that the spirit of a new civilized nation should be encouraged by the belief in the existence of God Almighty.

Religion as a source of inspiration is indeed virtual, but it can be a trap because once a human is trapped, he will continue to be anxious and confused about finding and practicing his values. Religion is both transcendent and immanent. Religious principles that legitimize power have been internalized in the human conscience. In fact, the most expected religious social control is how to shape people’s consciences, so that they are courageous and firm in rejecting corruption, persecution, and human rights violations.

In essence, religion must be used as an inspiration in nation-building, not merely as an aspiration.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *