Female member of French Muslim Council resigns

5th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 5 (AFP) - Dounia Bouzar - one of two woman members of the French Council for the Muslim Religion (CFCM) - has stepped down, complaining that the body is failing to tackle the problems of the country's estimated five million-strong community.

PARIS, Jan 5 (AFP) - Dounia Bouzar - one of two woman members of the French Council for the Muslim Religion (CFCM) - has stepped down, complaining that the body is failing to tackle the problems of the country's estimated five million-strong community.

"For two years now I have been waiting for discussions to begin, but we never talked about anything. I don't see what qualified people like me are there for," Bouzar said Wednesday - two days after sending in a letter of resignation.

"All they talk about is procedures, who gets what positions, and the modalities of the elections which will take place in June," she said. "I do not see why I should continue with a mere walk-on part."

An anthropologist who has written widely on the problems of Muslim integration, Bouzar was appointed to the CFCM shortly after it was created two years ago as the country's first ever officially recognised Muslim body.

She took over from another woman, Betoule Lambiotte, who had also resigned.

Bouzar said the CFCM's governing bureau was dominated by men born outside France overly influenced by links with their countries of origin, and that the younger generations of French-born Muslims were unrepresented.

"My great regret is that the CFCM did not seize the extraordinary opportunity we had two years ago, when all the conditions were right for creating a new sense of Muslim religious consciousness, adapted to French secularism," she said.

"Young Muslims born in France cannot turn to foreign countries to find an answer to the key question - what does it mean to be a Muslim in a secular country - because none of those countries is secular. It was up to the CFCM to start the debate," she said.

The CFCM was established in 2002 at the initiative of former interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who felt the government should have a formal point of contact with the growing Muslim population.

However it has drawn criticism for giving undue representation to traditionalist Islamic groups with strong links to countries such as Morocco and Saudi Arabia, and not enough to liberal-minded or non-observant members of the community.

The CFCM has also been paralysed by internal squabbles in the run-up to the elections to the body that take place later this year.

Bouzar accused the institution of failing to respond properly to the law banning the Islamic headscarf and other religious symbols in schools, which came into effect in September.

"Instead of tackling the basic issue, the CFCM decreed that the headscarf was a religious duty, thus concluding a debate that has not even been decided in Muslim countries. And they did that before calling for the law to be respected," she said.

Dalil Boubakeur, the Algerian-born president of the CFCM who is also rector of the main mosque in Paris, said Wednesday that he "regretted" Bouzar's resignation.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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