Alexander Gray

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Thibault de Montbrial: “Will we allow imams in France to be trained by the Muslim Brotherhood?”

Dec 10, 2021

This article by Thibault de Montbrial originally appeared in Le Figaro on November 24, 2021, and was translated by Alexander Gray, Research Fellow at Policy Exchange


Thibault de Montbrial: “Will we allow imams in France to be trained by the Muslim Brotherhood?”

Thibault de Montbrial


November 24, 2021

The Great Mosque of Paris’ rector has announced the creation of a training centre for imams competing with the one set up by the French Council of Muslim Worship (CFCM). The lawyer [Thibault de Montbrial] expresses his concern about the content of this training.

Thibault de Montbrial is president of the French Centre for Reflection on Internal Security. Last published work: “Osons l’autorité” (Éditions de l’Observatoire, 2020).

The fight against Islamism is one of the vital challenges of the coming years for France’s internal security.

Around fifty attacks, nearly three hundred deaths and thousands of people wounded over the last six years have led the State to implement regular legal and structural adaptations in the fight against terrorism. But if terrorist violence is one of the means of political action in the service of Islamist ideology, there are others, less spectacular but just as dangerous.

Among the 10% or so Muslims in the French population, Islamism is a clear temptation, in particular among young people. Among them, several studies show the prevalence of Sharia law on the laws of the Republic (57% for those under 25, according to the Ifop survey of November 2020).

The State has finally started to react, with the August 20, 2021 law “on the defence of republican principles” and the dissolution of the Islamist associations Baraka City and CCIF. As essential as they may have been, these actions are far from sufficient. Europe in general and France in particular are the object of incessant but stealthy entryism, under the impetus of structures close to the Muslim Brotherhood and largely financed from abroad.

States like Qatar and Turkey are at the helm, the latter through the DIYANET, a ministerial office for worship whose budget, in excess of one billion euros, is twice that of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. These States finance an important network, in particular of organisations, in Europe and of course in France.

Concerning the European institutions, naivety borders on blindness. The recent astonishing campaign of the Council of Europe – “My veil, my freedom” – engages, in the name of the laudable objective of the fight against discrimination, in the promotion of a garment whose rigorous religious tradition to which it refers seems at the very least remote from fundamental values ​​such as equality between the sexes and the European conception of the place of women in society. Around this scandalous communication is the influence of FEMYSO (Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organisations). This association dedicated to young European Muslims is attached to the FIOE (Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe), a kind of parent company of the Muslim Brotherhood on our continent. The ostensible support displayed by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights for FEMYSO therefore appears as incomprehensible as it is worrying.

Control over the teaching of Islam is a key part of the Brotherhood strategy. In this logic, the Brotherhood naturally seeks to weigh on the crucial subject of the training of imams. This was further illustrated in recent days in France when the rector of the Great Mosque of Paris, Chems-Eddine Hafiz, announced the creation of a National Council of Imams (CNI) separate from the one scheduled to be launched in December by the French Council of Muslim Worship (CFCM). The rector of the Great Mosque of Paris, who nevertheless regularly declares his intransigence regarding respect for republican values, has joined forces to do this with Musulmans de France (ex-UOIF), which is considered to be the French branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. More troubling still, he was, on November 19, visiting the European Institute of Human Sciences (IESH), a Brotherhood stronghold installed in Château-Chinon. There, he met Amar Lasfar, former president of the UOIF whose commitment to the “cause” is unequivocal. Chems-Eddine Hafiz confirmed, on November 20 on CNews, that the purpose of this visit was specifically to organise the training of future imams.

Thus, in France, under the eyes of the Ministry of the Interior, the training of imams by the Muslim Brotherhood continues to take place. However, since their creation in 1928 in Egypt by Hassan al-Banna (grandfather of Tariq Ramadan), the objective of the Muslim Brotherhood has been to extend Islamist influence worldwide. Europe (in particular France and Germany) is today the object of the concentration of the Brotherhood’s efforts to this end. The edifying short film Which Islam for Europe? The training institutions of the Muslim Brotherhood, recently shown at the Cartagena Film Festival, details the implementation of this strategy, and the key role played in it by the four establishments established by the European Institute of Human Sciences in France to this day.

It should be remembered that the Muslim Brotherhood conceals its conquering radicalism by the alleged adherence to local laws (in this case, those of our democracy) in order to achieve positions of influence at the heart of society (within unions, media, political parties…). Combined with the control over the politico-religious education of young Muslims, it is clear how this mixture can endanger the cohesion of an already very fractured French society, where denial still largely prevails over these realities.

Islamism is a deadly poison. Handing it the keys to the education of imams in France would have terrible consequences for the internal security of our nation.

Alexander Gray

Research Fellow, Security & Extremism (2018-2022) Read Full Bio

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