Last September, the new rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, Chams-Eddine Hafiz, published a resounding book entitled “Le manifeste contre le terrorisme islamiste”, in which he castigated the supporters of political Islam. He thus established himself as a champion of moderate Islam. No one could have imagined then that, less than three months later, the enlightened rector would make a strange and radical turnaround, to ally himself with the Muslim Brotherhood, the mother house of Islamism, against the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), led by his rival Mohamed Moussaoui.
By Atmane Tazaghart
Against the background of a struggle for influence, part of what is commonly called “consular Islam” (see box below), the conflicts between Hafiz, of Algerian origin, and Moussaoui, who is Moroccan, have allowed the Muslim Brotherhood to infiltrate the National Council of Imams (CNI), after having been expelled from it in March 2021 – like two other federations represented in the CFCM – for having refused to ratify the 10 articles of the “charter of principles for the Islam of France” drawn up by the CFCM at the request of President Macron.
In his speech in Les Mureaux on 2 October 2020, dedicated to the fight against Islamist separatism, Emmanuel Macron had suggested to the representatives of the Muslim faith the elaboration of a “charter of values” intended to protect Muslims in France against political Islam and foreign interference. The French president also announced his intention to put an end, before 2024, to the “seconded imams” sent to France by foreign countries, entrusting the CFCM with the mission of creating a National Council to train French-speaking imams who are aware of humanist and republican values.
The preparations for the ‘‘charter of values” gave rise to acute dissension within the CFCM: in December 2020, the rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris stormed out of the Council, denouncing the undermining of political Islam, which he accused of opposing secular and republican values; in March 2021, three Islamist federations [the Muslim Brotherhood, the Turks and a Comorian federation] withdrew from the Council, refusing to ratify the charter.
Preparations for the INC therefore continued without them. And the launch of the INC is officially announced by the CFCM for 12 December 2021. Except that three weeks before this date, the rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris decided to ally himself with the Muslim Brotherhood to short-circuit the CFCM’s approach, announcing on 21 November the creation of a training body for imams bearing the same name as the CNI!
In his unnatural alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood, the rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris went so far as to visit the training centre for imams in Château-Chinon, run by the Muslim Brotherhood, on 19 November, to praise the quality of the training provided there!
It is true that Chams-Eddine Hafiz is no longer close to a contradiction. Already in September 2002, in his capacity as lawyer for the Grand Mosque then headed by Dalil Boubakeur, he sued Michel Houellebecq before the Paris tribunal de grande instance for “complicity in provocation to discrimination, hatred or violence with regard to a group of people because of his belonging to a religion “and” insult “, following the publication of his novel ‘Soumission’. Four years later, it was again he who initiated the legal proceedings, still as a lawyer for the Great Mosque of Paris, against our colleagues at Charlie Hebdo, in the case of the caricatures of Prophet Mohammed. In January 2020, after taking over from Dalil Boubakeur, he radically changed his position, claiming that he now supports the right to caricature and unequivocally condemns Islamist extremism.
To further establish his reputation as a ‘‘moderate’’, Chams-Eddine Hafiz does not hesitate to receive, at the Paris Grand Mosque, in July 2021, the young Mila, a homosexual teenager harassed on social networks and threatened with death by Islamist fanatics. He even went so far as to offer her a copy of the Koran with a very special symbolism: it was pink!
There is no doubt that such a gesture of openness and tolerance towards a homosexual accused, moreover, of having insulted Islam, is not at all to the taste of the rigorous leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, who welcomed the rector in Château-Chinon. But the opportunity he offered them to bypass the CNI, intended to question their hold on the training of imams in France, was too good for them to bother with theological considerations!