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French Muslim leaders approve 'charter of principles' backing country's secular values

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By Euronews
A woman walks outside the Paris mosque, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020.
A woman walks outside the Paris mosque, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Thibault Camus
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French Muslim leaders have backed a "charter of principles" rejecting political Islam and approving the creation of a council that will train imams preaching in the country.

The French Council of Muslim Worship (CFCM), which acts as the Muslim faith's official interlocutor with the state, has been working on the charter for weeks, under pressure from the government following the unveiling of a law targeting Islamist separatism.

The full text of the Charter has not yet been made public but the CMFM said in a statement on Sunday that it "reaffirms the compatibility of the Muslim faith with the principles of the Republic, including secularism, and the attachment of Muslims in France to their full citizenship."

"It rejects the instrumentalisation of Islam for political purposes as State interference in the exercise of the Muslim faith," it added.

It asserted that every French citizen, including those of Muslim faith, must respect the laws of the country above all else, and respect principles including gender equality, freedom of religion and the rejection of all discrimination.

The CFCM also stated its "unanimous will to set up a National Council of Imams (CNI) as soon as possible" and said consultations will be opened shortly with local actors, imams and mosque leaders.

Representatives from the CFCM are to be received by French President Emmanuel Macron and Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin on Monday.

The charter follows a push by the government to combat what it calls "radical Islam" and protect the country's secularism.

A draft bill "reinforcing republican principles" unveiled in December 2020 aims to crack down on foreign religious funding, end a system allowing imams to train overseas, and reduce homeschooling — which the government says is being used by some to send their children to underground radical schools.

The bill and comments made by Macron following the killing of Samuel Paty, a teacher beheaded after showing caricatures of Prophet Muhammed in a class on free speech, had sparked a backlash in some majority-Muslim countries.