France, Islam and the right to religious freedom #terrorism #belgium #isil

Foto LaPresse 08-08-2013 Roma Cronaca Termina oggi la festività islamica del Ramadan, fedeli in preghiera alla Moschea di Roma

Termina oggi la festività islamica del Ramadan, fedeli in preghiera alla Moschea di Roma


Some may say that these are hard times for right to religious freedom in France, at least if you are a Muslim.

Julien Dray, a member of the French socialist party, advocated for the ban of Arabic language during religious rites in mosques. In an interview for RTL on November 23rd, he added that preaches contain the real message predicated in mosques so it’s important that that message is delivered to Muslim people in French, gaining support even from the left wing radicals.

That proposition actually sounds familiar: more than once, Marine Le Pen, president of the Front National , has proposed to make preaches in French compulsory, in order to become aware of preachers purposes. Earlier, in 2011, Jean-Francois Copé, then president of UMP, and Thierry Mariani, former Minister of transports had suggested similar measures, rooted on the certainty that  official places of worship are the  heart of radical Islam, in which well-known predicators diffuse their ideas on violent jihad.

Firstly: are mosques  built throughout Europe still so important for the whole European Muslim community? Some experts have repeatedly  said that these religious institutions cannot exhaustively respond to people’s needs anymore– especially young people’s – because they promulgate ideas which they feel far from their own reality and cannot give complete responses to their current necessities. That’s the reason why many Muslims turned to other kinds of associations, sometimes more radical, more intransigent, more fundamentalist forms of associations. It’s a fact that ISIL’s recruiters didn’t found proselytes only in the mosques, but especially on social networks and in the streets, recently explained Michael Privot , Islamologist and  Doctor of Oriental languages at the Université de Liège (ULG) . In Belgium – which has recently taken the spotlight for the securitization and block of its capital – mosques are still run by first and second generation immigrants and they are hostile to Salafism and its most extremist branches, which are anyway diffusing their ideas in less traditional ways – suck as web propaganda.

Secondly: could France and its secularist nature ever approve the existence of interferences between temporal power and religion?

On 9 December 1905 the Chamber of Deputies passed 1905  French law on the Separation of the Churches and State which – establishing state secularism in a Left Coalition leaded France –   constitutes the foundation of the principle of  “laïcité”. The law follows the principles of neutrality of the state, freedom of religious exercise and regulates public powers related to the church. In fact, the right to religion freedom is granted also by article 1 of French Constitution, article 10 of the Declaration of Human Rights and civic rights (1789) and article 9 of European Convention of Human rights. Moreover, many cults are performed in their original language – which are part of the liturgical rite, such as the Arabic language in Islam – in France and they cannot suffer from state interference. Should they all be forbidden? Or special measures concerning Islam should be taken? Is forbidding preaches in Arabic an effective and correct way to arginate Islamic radicalization?

While the debate in still heated, some suggest that mosques should be institutionalized and officially recognized, in order to make them economically and ideologically independent from Arab countries – namely, Wahhabis Saudi Arabia – but intolerance is also increasingly expanding throughout Europe. What should really be established is the real influence of mosques – and preaches in Arabic – on radicalization of European Muslims and if restrictions in religious freedom are needed in the name of national security.

Valentina CALCAGNO

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