The Republic & Islam

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Title: The Republic & Islam Tensions of Secularism and Contemporary Islamic Expression
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Hanks, Christopher
Publisher: New College of Florida
Place of Publication: Sarasota, Fla.
Creation Date: 2011
Publication Date: 2011


Subjects / Keywords: Islam
Religious Expression
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theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: Since the Algerian Revolution in the 1960s, the French Republic has cultivated a rather abrasive relationship with its Muslim immigrant population. Scholars like Jonathan Laurence (2006) and Bronwyn Winter (2008) espouse this problematic relationship to three Franco-Muslim controversies: a lack of Muslim interest group representation in the public sphere, a disproportionate representation of Islamic prayer spaces, and a twenty-year legal battle on religious head garments. Divided into three sections, this project attempts to analyze each controversy and its effect on the French-Muslim population. The first section, entitled �French Muslim Associations and Federations,� focuses primarily on the issues surrounding religious associations and the recent emergence of Muslim councils. Section two, �At Last, A Mosque in Marseille,� attempts to analyze the recent construction of a 7,500 person mega Mosque in Marseille. Finally, section three, �Islamic Head Coverings in France,� presents discussion of the Headscarf controversy. Together, each section unveils three common themes: the French government�s attempts to defend its Revolutionary ideals, the contemporary relevance of the Republic�s colonial history in Algeria, and the emergence of a uniquely �French� interpretation of Islam.
Statement of Responsibility: by Christopher Hanks
Thesis: Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2011
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local: Faculty Sponsor: Alcock, Frank

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Source Institution: New College of Florida
Holding Location: New College of Florida
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Classification: local - S.T. 2011 H24
System ID: NCFE004506:00001

Permanent Link:

Material Information

Title: The Republic & Islam Tensions of Secularism and Contemporary Islamic Expression
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Hanks, Christopher
Publisher: New College of Florida
Place of Publication: Sarasota, Fla.
Creation Date: 2011
Publication Date: 2011


Subjects / Keywords: Islam
Religious Expression
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: Since the Algerian Revolution in the 1960s, the French Republic has cultivated a rather abrasive relationship with its Muslim immigrant population. Scholars like Jonathan Laurence (2006) and Bronwyn Winter (2008) espouse this problematic relationship to three Franco-Muslim controversies: a lack of Muslim interest group representation in the public sphere, a disproportionate representation of Islamic prayer spaces, and a twenty-year legal battle on religious head garments. Divided into three sections, this project attempts to analyze each controversy and its effect on the French-Muslim population. The first section, entitled �French Muslim Associations and Federations,� focuses primarily on the issues surrounding religious associations and the recent emergence of Muslim councils. Section two, �At Last, A Mosque in Marseille,� attempts to analyze the recent construction of a 7,500 person mega Mosque in Marseille. Finally, section three, �Islamic Head Coverings in France,� presents discussion of the Headscarf controversy. Together, each section unveils three common themes: the French government�s attempts to defend its Revolutionary ideals, the contemporary relevance of the Republic�s colonial history in Algeria, and the emergence of a uniquely �French� interpretation of Islam.
Statement of Responsibility: by Christopher Hanks
Thesis: Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2011
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local: Faculty Sponsor: Alcock, Frank

Record Information

Source Institution: New College of Florida
Holding Location: New College of Florida
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: local - S.T. 2011 H24
System ID: NCFE004506:00001

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THE REPUBLIC AND ISLAM: TENSIONS OF SECULARISM AND CONTEMPORARY ISLAMIC EXPRESSION by Christopher Anthony Hanks A Thesis Submitted to the division of Social Sciences New College of Florida In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorship of Dr. Frank Alcock Sarasota, FL January, 2011


Acknowledgements I would like to acknowledge Dr. Deb Cordier. Without her love, support, and sapient advice throughout this process, this project would not have emerged so gracefully. II


Table of Contents Introduction..........................................................................................................................1 French Muslim Associations and Federations.....................................................................7 At Last, A Mosque in Marseille.........................................................................................37 Islamic Head Coverings in France.....................................................................................61 Concluding Remarks..........................................................................................................84 III


Acronyms 1. CDHRI: Cairo Declaration of Human Rights on Islam 2. CFCM: Conseil Franais du Culte Musulman (French Council of the Muslim Faith) 3. CNMF: Coordination Nationale des Musulmans Franais (National Coordination of French Muslims) 4. CORIF: Conseil de RŽflexion sur l'Islam in France (Council of Reflexion on Islam in France) 5. ECHR: European Court of Human Rights 6. EU: European Union 7. FN: Front National (National Front) 8. FNMF: FedŽration Nationale des Musulmans de France (National Federation of French Muslims) 9. GMP: Grande MosquŽe de Paris (Great Mosque of Paris) 10. MWL: Muslim World League 11. RMF: Rassemblement des Musulmans de France (Rally of French Muslims) 12. UDHR: Universal Declaration of Human Rights 13. UOIF: Union des Organisations Islamiques en France (Union of Islamic Organizations in France) 14. ZEPs: Zones d'ƒducation Prioratoires (Priority Education Zones) IV


THE REPUBLIC AND ISLAM: TENSIONS OF SECULARISM AND CONTEMPORARY ISLAMIC EXPRESSION Christopher A. Hanks New College of Florida, 2011 ABSTRACT Since the Algerian Revolution in the 1960s, the French Republic has cultivated a rather abrasive relationship with its Muslim immigrant population. Scholars like Jonathan Laurence (2006) and Bronwyn Winter (2008) espouse this problematic relationship to three Franco-Muslim controversies: a lack of Muslim interest group representation in the public sphere, a disproportionate representation of Islamic prayer spaces, and a twenty-year legal battle on religious head garments. Divided into three sections, this project attempts to analyze each controversy and its effect on the FrenchMuslim population. The first section, entitled "French Muslim Associations and Federations," focuses primarily on the issues surrounding religious associations and the recent emergence of Muslim councils. Section two, "At Last, A Mosque in Marseille," attempts to analyze the recent construction of a 7,500 person mega Mosque in Marseille. Finally, section three, "Islamic Head Coverings in France," presents discussion of the Headscarf controversy. Together, each section unveils three common themes: the French government's attempts to defend its Revolutionary ideals, the contemporary relevance of V


the Republic's colonial history in Algeria, and the emergence of a uniquely "French" interpretation of Islam. Dr. Frank Alcock Division of Social Sciences VI


Introduction Nearly an entire decade after the events of September 11, 2001, Islam's relationship with the West has become an increasingly relevant (albeit controversial) topic in global politics. September 11, however, was not the United States' first confrontation with Islam. The Iranian hostage crisis of 1979, Cold War operations of Afghanistan during the 1980s, and the Gulf War of the early 1990s are all relevant examples of America's turbulent confrontations with Islam preceding the events of 2001. In addition to the U.S., other Western nations, predominately those of Western Europe, have rather rocky relationships with Islam. Samuel P. Huntington's Clash of Civilizations (1996), faithfully echoes the relationship between Western society and Islamic civilization. For Huntington, future conflicts in the world will be divided along deeply rooted cultural and religious lines. In essence, religious and cultural differences have driven a wedge between (and will continue to wedge) the West and Islam. One prominent clash between the West and Islam is the assumed "universality" of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Many supporters of Shari'a Law 1 oppose the UDHR because it does not accommodate to the cultural and religious differences of Islam. Indeed, the UDHR does conflict with Shari'a Law on issues of religious freedom, women's rights, and capital punishment. Cultural relativists complain that the UDHR is largely and unfairly biased towards Western ideology and political thought. Consequently, such differences prompted the drafting of the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam (CDHRI), Hanks P 1 1 Religious legal outline for Islamic societies. Laws strictly adhere to the philosophies and designs of the Qur'an and Hadith.


which was intended to be an Islamic complement to the UDHR. Still, many have questioned the validity of the CDHRI, as it leaves out religious freedom and women's rights. Differing opinions of the UDHR and the CDHRI are still hotly disputed today. Obviously, Huntington's thesis about international conflict has some relevance to the West's relationship with Islam on the whole. Apart from the West's relationship with Islam, one Western European nation has a particularly interesting, deeply rooted history with Islam. The French Republic, home to approximately five million Muslims, has been engaged with diplomatic relations (both domestic and international) with Islam since the late nineteenth century. From the years of 1830 to 1962, France had successfully occupied and declared Algeria to be French territory. After the atrocities of the First World War, the government constructed a large mosque in the center of Paris's Latin Quarter to commemorate the Algerian soldiers who died fighting for France. However, after a rather violent war for independence throughout the late 1950s, France's relations with Algeria began to decline. Simultaneously, the Algerian economy was also on the decline. As a result, many Algerians left their homeland in search of better opportunities in France. This was the beginning of a mass exodus of Muslim immigrants to France. By the 1960s, and thanks to the North African exodus, the French economy had begun to flourish. 2 Migrant labor was a huge benefit for many French industrialists as such immigrants were willing to do the jobs that most found too dirty, unappealing, and Hanks P 2 2 Milton Viorst, "The Muslims of France," Foreign Affairs 75 (Sep. Oct., 1996), 78.


grueling. 3 However, as mandated by the Evian Accords, 4 these migrant workers were only "temporary" recruitments and were expected to return to Algeria after three years. 5 Many migrant workers did not return home as the French had envisioned. In reality, the reverse happened: migrant spouses, children, and other family members were crossing French borders (sometimes illegally) by the hundreds of thousands to be reunited with their loved ones. 6 Browsing through newspaper headlines in 2010, the Republic is still suspended in a state controversy with Islam. Unlike the United States, however, France's conflict with Islam is not so much an international conflict but instead, a domestic conflict. This project encompasses the domestic complications resulting from a rapidly increasing French-Muslim population. Perhaps three of the most prevalent complications concerns that of Islamic associations, mosque construction, and religious head garments. The pages following will discuss and analyze these three issues in more depth. In section I, one will learn of the issues surrounding religious associations and the recent emergence of Muslim councils. Because secular France provides no aid to religious organizations, associations are crucial to the mobilization of people, money, and other resources that may maintain various religious movements. North African and Turkish immigrants were not granted the ability to form Islamic associations until the 1980s. The French government had hoped that unifying the Muslim population through Hanks P 3 3 Bronwyn Winter, Hijab & The Republic : Uncovering the French Headscarf Debate (New York: Syracuse University Press, 2008), 100. 4 A postwar agreement between France and Algeria. 5 Bronwyn Winter, Hijab & The Republic 100. 6 Ibid.


religious associations would help facilitate the provisions for their religious needs, needs that the secular State cannot fulfill. Nearly thirty years later, however, France's Muslims have struggled to find a unified voice. Different Muslim associations have emerged, linking themselves to a specific nationality and ideology. This multiplicity has brought forth conflict and has hindered the practice of Islam in France. As a result of this multiplicity of associations, government officials have sought after the formation of Muslim councils to better unify and mobilize the Muslim population. After that, section II will ponder the recent construction of a 7,500 person mega Mosque in Marseille. Informally known as the "de facto French Muslim capital," Marseille is home to over a quarter of a million Muslims. The city boasts one of the largest Islamic populations in France (second to Paris). However, Marseille is one of the more recent cities to begin construction of a large, central mosque. Why has Marseille's mosque arrived so late despite its greater Muslim constituency in comparison to other French cities? Muslims in Lyon, Strasbourg, and several other French cities mobilized themselves enough to at least begin central mosque construction; what are the reasons explaining Marseille's late arrival? In pursuit of such questions, section II outlines five necessary factors to mosque construction in French cities. These five factors include: (1) agreement between the Islamic community and local governments (2) agreement within the Islamic community (3) consistency of structure, design, and function of the facility with local rules and expectations (4) adequate Financing (5) land to build the mosque upon. At the end of the section, the factors relevant to the construction of Marseille's long-awaited mosque will be addressed. Hanks P 4


The final section, section III, provides an in depth analysis of the Headscarf Affair. Through its development of the controversies surrounding the hijab in public schools and the wearing of the veil in public, the paper reveals a very thin line dividing France's secular principles and its support of religious freedom. Divided into four portions, the section begins with a deeper presentation of Muslims's historical conflicts in France, like Islamophobia discrimination, and religious expression in public. Following that, some important distinctions will be made between various Islamic head garments and their varying relationships with French laws. Furthermore, the third portion will provide an historical analysis of the 1989 Headscarf affair and the fourteen years of conflict that followed. Finally, the last portion will assess more recent developments of religious head garments in France (i.e. The niqab and burqa ). Upon soaking up three of France's most provocative domestic confrontations with Islam, one will see the emergence of three important themes that weave some important threads among the sections of this thesis. The first theme is the "spirit" of the French Revolution. The Revolution brought about the emergence of secular thought and a strong adherence to egalitarianism. France's adherence to secular and egalitarian thought are relevant [and helpful] to understanding the formation of Muslim associations, mosque construction procedures, and anti-headscarf legislations. Along with the spirit of the French Revolution, a second theme is France's long and complex history with Algeria. Understanding the history between France and Algeria will be helpful when assessing the relationship between the French government and the Hanks P 5


Muslim population. Additionally, this history will aid in understanding the complex relationships among the French-Muslim population. Finally, the third unifying theme is the observed shift from an Islam in France to an Islam of France. Looking at the three sections through this lens, one will note the French government's several attempts to better integrate Islam into contemporary French society. Instead of the French simply dealing with a large Muslim constituency within their borders, one will take note of the government's attempts to foster an inherently French form of Islam. Hanks P 6


I French Muslim Associations and Federations In his article Representing Efficiency: Corporatism and Democratic Theory Victor Magagna reiterates the following definition of corporatism: it is a system' of interest representation in which constituent units are situated into various categories; the state recognizes and licenses various organizations and grants them deliberate monopolistic representation. 7 In contrast to pluralist societies, corporatist societies allow for the creation of powerful, strategic actors who influence public policy and market outcomes. This might imply a democratic deficit' in corporatist societies. The democratic deficit is founded on the notion that, in corporatist societies, the state may grant powerful organizations a certain degree of power and autonomy that would originally be reserved for the voters. Magagna, however, posits that such institutions "may provide the best way of adopting the need for national unity and policy flexibility needed to preserve participatory politics." 8 Echoing this notion, Mahrukh Doctor asserts that corporatist institutions enhance the democratic elements of a state. Utilizing a case study on the creation of the Council for Economic and Social Development (2003) in Brazil, Doctor posits that the council may have enhanced, to some degree, cooperative dialogue between the average citizen and the Brazilian government. He reveals that such dialogue has helped Brazil in taking the first steps toward building strong, democratic institutions and a competitive global Hanks P 7 7 Victor V. Magagna, "Representing Efciency: Corporatism and Democratic Theory," The Review of Politics 50 (Summer, 1988), 421. 8 Ibid., 442.


economy. 9 The article also compares the case of Brazil to the success of similar programs in Western Europe. 10 Ireland and the Netherlands, for example, were able to enhance their own "governability" to become more stable democracies. The article supports corporatism's stabilizing effects on troublesome nations. Authors like Doctor and Magagna rise above the "democratic deficit" critique and support corporatism's adherence to democratic ideology. Just as there are several different perspectives on the benefits and quandaries of corporatism today, there are several different versions of corporatism. The earliest element of corporatism traces its roots to early religious communities. Early Christian, Islamic, Confucian, and Hindu doctrines have expressed the stabilizing power of community harmonization and solidarity. 11 Additionally, in the postwar era, another branch of corporatism emerged: neo-corporatism. Neo-corporatism, as defined by Klaus Von Beyme, represents a source of economic improvement through the formation of strong, influential interest groups. 12 Structure is particularly relevant to postwar Western Europe, which was threatened with high levels of stagflation 13 in the 1960s and 70s. Neo-corporatists divide the powers of a nation into three influential groups: the Hanks P 8 9 Mahrukh Doctor, "Lula's Development Council: Neo-Corporatism and Policy Reform in Brazil," Latin American Perspectives 34 (Nov, 2007), 145. 10 Doctor, "Lul's Development Council," 147. 11 Howard J. Wiarda, Corporatism and Comparative Politics: The Other Great ism, (New York: M.E. Sharpe, 1996), 71-90. 12 Klaus Von Beyme, "Neo-Corporatism: A New Nut in an Old Shell?" International Political Science Review 4 (1983), 173-77. 13 Economic term connoting the combination of high levels of unemployment (economic stagnation) and currency ination.


government, employer unions, and worker unions. 14 The three parties work together, each taking responsibility for the state of the economy. In addition to neo-corporatism, political science scholar Jonathan Laurence describes two forms of corporatism existing in France. First, Laurence discusses "economic corporatism." Similar to neo-corporatism, economic corporatism promotes "solidarity among employers and workers in hopes of overcoming class conflict." 15 Economic corporatism, however, has not taken a solid hold in French economic affairs. Some scholars would put France on the weaker end of the corporatist scale [syndicalism], where trade unions of the same industry are united under an overarching federation. 16 Syndicalism is a weaker form of corporatism wherein federations do not carry much influence beyond the industry level, as opposed to a corporatist organization which possesses strong influence at the national level. Rejections of the 1935 government plan to create a compulsory entente of the Lyon silk industry, for example, highlights France's leaning towards syndicalism. The compulsory entente was opposed by major actors of the silk industry as they feared that such an entente would lead to authoritarian commandeering of the industry. 17 With the rise of Hitler, Mussolini, and fascism in this period, it is no surprise that the Lyonnais rejected a more corporatist model. They feared Hanks P 9 14 Ibid. 15 Jonathan Laurence, "State-Church Relations and the Politics of Corporatism: The Case of Islam in France (Harvard University), 4. 16 Howard J. Wiarda, Corporatism and Comparative Politics 75. 17 Kevin Passmore, "Business, Corporatism an dthe Crisis of the French Third Republic. The Example of the Silk Industry of Lyon, 1928-1935," The Historical Journal 38, (Dec. 1995), 960.


that relinquishing power to an overarching body at the national level would till fertile ground for a fascist form of government. 18 Although economic corporatism has only achieved a modest degree of institutionalization in France, 19 another form of corporatism arguably has taken hold. Defined by Jonathan Laurence as religious corporatism, it is an approach to governance that seeks to "assure the secularity of the Republic by wresting control of education and prayer spaces from potential tyrannical extremists." 20 Corporatist religious bodies create a channel connecting the citizen [or religious follower] to the government. This channel facilitates discussion between the popular voice and the high, governing power. Corporatist religious bodies are supported through taxpayers and can influence areas involving public order and health. Such areas include: provisions for prayer space construction and maintenance, cleric training programs, appointment of prison and hospital chaplains, certification for ritual animal slaughter, and ritual burials. 21 These organizations have been able to provide for the religious needs of followers of various religions in France, transforming the local bargaining structures of small associations into larger, more centralized national bargaining structures. On the other hand, comparative politics scholars like Frank L. Wilson would respectfully disagree with Laurence's on the degree of religious corporatism's influence Hanks P 10 18 Ibid. 19 John S. Keeter, "Situating France on the Pluralism-Corporatism Continuum: A Critique of and Alternative to the Wilson Perspective," Comparative Politics 17, 229-249. 20 Jonathan Laurence, "State-Church Relations and the Politics of Corporatism: The Case of Islam in France," 4. 21 Ibid., 6.


in France. In his article, French Interest Group Politics Wilson asserts that social interest group representation lies more at the weaker side of the religious corporatist continuum. For Wilson, French interest groups have little power in influencing government decisions. 22 It is revealed throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, that more than half of French corporatist structures participated in government committees to push their agendas. However, only 1 percent of the observed participation effectively swayed the government's position. 23 While Wilson asserts the truth of corporatist-minded organizations existing in France, their gravity of influence on the French government leaves much room for improvement. Whether Wilson is correct in his assertions of the weak corporatist structure in France, I still echo Laurence and assert that French society contains some sense of religious corporatism. Seeking to accommodate the needs of religiously observant citizens, the government has pushed for the formation of religious associations to satisfy the needs of the religious population. 24 In 1905, the Republic passed the Law on the Separation of Churches and State. 25 This was an official declaration of the government's separation from religious affairs. One of the consequences of this separation is an increased pressure on religious associations to satisfy the needs of the various religious communities. Because the government is religiously neutral, other bodies are responsible Hanks P 11 22 Frank L. Wilson, "French Interest Groups: Pluralist or Neocorporatist?" The American Political Science Review 77 (Dec., 1983), 899. 23 Ibid. 24 Laurence, "State-Church Relations," 4. 25 Bronwyn Winter, Hijab & The Republic : Uncovering the French Headscarf Debate (New York: Syracuse University Press, 2008), 54.


for religious practices in France. For example, funding for religious facilities and any other religious gathering relies on the aid of such associations. Such associations, composed of prayer space groups and other small, local groups, unite under an umbrella' federation, representing the common interests of local religious communities across the country. Leading representatives from these varying federations are elected or appointed to a central council. This complex structure links religious followers to the government, where the council is responsible for acting as an interlocutor between the interests of the religious community and the government. For approximately the first half of the twentieth century, most religious associations represented Catholic, Protestant, or Jewish communities. By the 1960s, however, a new migrant faith began to grow within French society: Islam. A faith historically separated from Western thought and philosophy, Islam has faced a long, treacherous road to acceptance in the socially Catholic yet politically Atheistic France. The government's neutrality to religious functions and French society's opposition to a foreign faith made it difficult for early Muslims to practice their faith in the public sphere. For starters, even if the government wanted to provide aid to the Muslim community, it is legally constrained from doing so. Xenophobic political movements like the National Front (FN) have portrayed Muslims as backward fundamentalists who hate France, secularism, and any legal system that is not Shari'a. 26 The FN has exploited its public influence against the Muslim community. Hanks P 12 26 Law based on the Qur'an and the religious customs of Islam.


Mosque and prayer space construction, for example, has proved a treacherous obstacle to the practice of Islam in France. With the FN's influence over the political rhetoric, traditional French citizens are loathe to consider the construction of a Mosque in their backyards. Historically, citizens have also been reluctant to accept the conversion of old churches and post offices into Islamic prayer spaces. As noted, the government is legally restricted from providing aid to a growing religious minority. This has pushed many to convert old basements and other run-down municipal buildings into makeshift prayer spaces. Several of these spaces lack running water or air conditioning. 27 Religious associations remain crucial to France's expanding Muslim community. Specific community needs include prayer spaces (mosque construction) freedom of expression (headscarves), halal meat certifications, and the appointment of Islamic hospital and prison chaplains. Importantly, French Muslims have seen progress in the past thirty years, progress that can be attributed to the French's adherence to religious corporatism. The following paper will reveal the French government's use of corporatist methodology to, in essence, help the French Muslim community help itself. From the perspective of the Republic, a faith's only chance at survival and self-sustenance in the secular atmosphere is through associations. * The French Republic, one of Europe's most Muslim-dense nations, contains approximately five million Muslims. As a result, Islam is France's second most practiced religion after Catholicism. Accommodations for such a large constituency have been in Hanks P 13 27 Jonathan Laurence, Integrating Islam (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2006), 84.


the workings since as early as the 1960s, when many North Africans sought guest working opportunities in France. As far as the French government is concerned, however, accommodations for religious purposes is forbidden. This is explicitly outlined by the 1905 Law of the Separation of Churches and State. Fortunately, there are other mechanisms to facilitate the practice of Islam in France. One of the most prevalent examples is the state's allowance for the formation of Muslim immigrant associations and federations. The capability and effectiveness of these organizations has varied. The remainder of this chapter is composed of six sections. Section I will present the lens through which the French government views religious issues. Section II will explain the issues that confronted Muslim immigrants in the 1960s, 70s, and early 80s. Section II will also discuss the turning point where the government revamped the legal constraints that disallowed the formation of immigrant associations. Section III will highlight the major associations that emerged. Although a multitude of Muslim associations formed early on and still exist today, this paper will only cover the few most influential associations for simplicity purposes. Sections IV and V of the chapter will explore the formation of various representative Islamic councils, composing themselves of representatives from the competing associations that had emerged. Problems with the Islamic councils will also be discussed. The concluding section will discuss some recent events the ability of the associations and the Islamic councils to effectively address them. Hanks P 14


Types of Religious Associations* Organization Body Purpose / Functions Religious Associations Organizes, funds, and supports various functions of a religious faith "Immigrant" Associations Same functions of religious associations; composed of foreignborn French citizens Islamic Councils Facilitates discussion between Islamic community and French Government; organizes the functions of Islamic practices at the national level. *For more precise reading, it is important to understand the roles of religious associations, immigrant associations, and the Islamic councils. Section I: Historical Context France has had a long, tumultuous relationship with religion since the late eighteenth century. Centuries of the Catholic Church's dominance over all aspects of French life led to a fierce resistance to formal links between the citizens and state. 28 The specter of the French Revolution cautioned against the formation of any social, religious, or labor groups as revolutionaries feared that factionalizing would lead to the reinstatement of the Old Regime. 29 During the Revolution, any organized group composed of two or more persons was considered a potential threat to state security. Workers were forbidden to form labor unions or even organize meetings with employers; Hanks P 15 28 A. Moustapha Diop, "Negotiating Religious Difference: The Opinions and Attitudes of Islamic Associations in France," in The Politics of Multiculturalism in the New Europe: Racism, Identity, and Community ed. Tariq Modood and Pnina Werbner (New York: Zed Books), 112. 29 Nonna Mayer, "Democracy in France: Do Associations Matter?," in Generating Social Capital ed. Marc Hooghe and Dietlind Stolle (New York: Palgrave Macmillan 2003), 47.


those who were involved in a social gathering of any form were subject to charges of treason. 30 Fortunately, this all changed by 1901 with the passing of the Waldeck-Rousseau Republican Law on Associations. 31 The law provides a broad definition of an association as "two or more people combining knowledge or efforts for the attainment of something other than profit." 32 The law enabled the formation of several associations, even religious associations so long as they were formed by natural-born French citizens. Religious associations were permitted, even without state approval as long as they adhered to two general conditions: that the association does not pose a threat to public order and does not restrict the freedoms of other citizens. 33 This law remains in force today. Although it is not mandatory for associations to seek approval from the state, there are benefits to being a declared association. After making a declaration to local government authorities (including the title and goal of the association and the names, professions, and nationalities of its members), a n association may profit from services provided, be represented as one entity in court cases, and even own real estate. 34 Religious associations and their ability to accommodate to the needs of their members became increasingly important after the passage of the 1905 Separation of Churches and State. The 1905 Law is an official declaration of secularism in which the Hanks P 16 30 Ibid. 31 Ibid. 32 Ibid. 33 Carolyn M. Warner and Manfred W. Wenner, "Religion and the Political Organization of Muslims in Europe," Perspectives on Politics 4 (Sep., 2006), 468. 34 Ibid.


French government would no longer "neither recognize nor pay the salaries or other expenses espoused to any form of worship." 35 In other words, this was France's official divorce from religion. With the state shifting its scope from religious funding and support, associations would be significantly more important in catering to citizens' religious needs. Though it may seem restricting, the drafters of the 1905 Law felt it was liberation for those wanting to partake in a spiritual following that was not Catholicism. The Republic was, in a sense, privatizing religion. In the early 1900s, there was not a large Muslim population in France. There was not an urgent need to promote and protect an Islamic agenda within the contiguous borders of France. Although Muslims were virtually negligible in comparison to their numbers today, Muslim organizations were formed in the early twentieth century. T he Muslim Brotherhood, for example, was founded in 1907 to "establish bonds and solidarity between Muslims living in the Paris Region." 36 The Brotherhood played a minor role in catering to the needs of disadvantaged Muslim students and looking after the funeral and burial arrangements of Muslims in the Paris region. 37 The Brotherhood did not have an enormous impact, nor did any other early Muslim associations. This was not only because of a smaller population but also because of the limitations on immigrant associations. The Waldeck-Rousseau Law did not enable immigrants to found their own associations nor did it permit funding from foreign sources. As a result, it was difficult Hanks P 17 35 Joel S. Fetzer and Christopher Soper, Muslims and the State in Britain, France, and Germany (New York: Cambridge University Press), 70. 36 A. Moustapha Diop, "Negotiating Religious Difference: The Opinions and Attitudes of Islamic Associations in France," 113. 37 Ibid.


for followers of Islam to advance their religious agenda, let alone successfully organize themselves. Section II: Issues faced by Muslims in the 1960s & 70s, and the Socialist Modification of the 1901 Law Given the rather violent war for independence between the years of 1954 and 1962, the French finally had to relinquish over one hundred years of colonial domination in North Africa. Unsurprisingly, Franco-Algerian relations were strained after Algerian independence. Many Algerians who fought for France in the Algerian War for Independence had been severely ostracized in their home country, which later pushed France to grant them political asylum. 38 Consequently, France was pressured to loosen its borders for many Algerian refugees in spite of their devastating loss. This influx, however, was not a huge loss to the French. Other motives encouraged France to loosen up its immigration policies with Algeria. By the 1960s, the French economy was beginning to flourish as a result of cheap, immigrant labor. 39 Post-independence Algeria was suffering from high levels of poverty and unemployment, which drove many impoverished Algerians to seek a more sustainable living in France. This was a huge benefit for many French industrialists as such immigrants were willing to do the jobs that most found too dirty, unappealing, and grueling. However, as mandated by the Evian Accords (a postwar agreement between France and Algeria), these migrant workers were only "temporary" recruitments and were Hanks P 18 38 Milton Viorst, "The Muslims of France," Foreign Affairs 75 (Sep. Oct., 1996), 78. 39 Ibid.


expected to return to Algeria after three years. 40 In spite of that agreement many migrant workers did not return home as the French had envisioned. Instead, the migrants's spouses, children, and other family members soon followed by crossing French borders (sometimes illegally) by the millions to be reunited with their loved ones. Two problems began to rise with massive migration from North Africa in the 1960s and 1970s. First, Muslim guest workers were confronted with the problem of practicing their religion in the public sphere. As several North African families were being reunited across the various regions of France, questions of establishing prayer facilities and other important ritual and cultural centers became an increasing concern. A few modest religious facilities were set up in several communities in the 1970s, but none were freestanding venues. 41 Many prayer services were conducted in old buildings like post offices or even in the basements of local homes. Halal butcheries, Islamic holiday festivals, and other cultural-religious activities were virtually nonexistent during this period. Furthermore, another problem was assimilating into French society and finding a sense of belonging. With the formation of the National Front (FN) political party in 1972, Muslim immigrants faced an even larger obstacle in finding cultural and religious acceptance in France. Party leaders like Jean-Marie Le Pen preached a strong, antiMuslim sentiment, attributing high levels of unemployment, the rise of AIDS, and Hanks P 19 40 Bronwyn Winter, Hijab & The Republic 100. 41 Leslie Limage, "Education and the Muslim Identity: The Case of France," Comparative Education 36 (February 2000), 85.


delinquency and crime in French neighborhoods to "Muslim" immigrants. 42 It seems that the agenda of the FN has been to explicitly target the Muslim population. The lack of sufficient resources and mobilization to practice their faith coupled with discrimination from right-wing party leaders severely hindered the integration of Muslim immigrants and their families. Furthermore, there was a serious inequity between the native and immigrant populations: the freedom to associate. The WaldeckRousseau Law permitted French-born citizens the right to establish religious associations. The Socialist Party recognized such problems with the Muslim community when it gained majority in parliament in 1981. Shortly after gaining power, they modified the Waldeck-Rousseau Law on associations to allow for the creation of immigrant associations. 43 With the ability for immigrants to form their own associations, they would be able to organize themselves more efficiently, work collectively to establish prayer spaces and other religious facilities, and provide a sense of belonging and solidarity to other French Muslims. Furthermore, associations open a legal vehicle by which the state can fund religious activities. The establishment of Muslim associations thus seemed like a potential solution to the problems the French Muslim community struggled with in the late 1960s and 1970s. Section III: The Emerging Associations and Federations after 1981 To no surprise, many immigrants took full advantage of the newfound right to form associations. Between the years of 1981 and 1982 alone, the number of Muslim Hanks P 20 42 Winter, 113. 43 Riva Kastoryano, "Religion and Incorporation: Islam in France and Germany," International Migration Review 38 (Fall 2004), 1238.


associations in France grew from seven to forty-two. 44 By the late 1990s, that number would mushroom to an astounding 1,600. Most of these associations organized themselves around local prayer spaces and mosques. 45 The rapid growth of Islamic associations after 1981 suggests that a majority of France's Muslims were not born there; there were associations of immigrants coming from North Africa and the Middle East. Nationality and country of origin are crucial to understanding the functions, motives, and politics of the various associations. What is more, such distinctions have also been the root of conflict. Although many Muslim immigrant associations formed after 1981, a somewhat centralized de-facto Muslim voice existed long before the modification of the 1901 law. This organization is called la Grande MosquŽe de Paris (The Great Mosque of Paris, GMP). The GMP was founded in conjunction with the 1926 mosque that was erected in honor of the Algerians who fought for France during the First World War. Before 1981, the GMP was the unofficial interlocutor between Muslims and the state. It was also an exclusively domestic organization, constrained to funding and support within French borders. After 1981, however, the GMP became reacquainted with its Algerian origins and established a deal with Algiers to receive 750,000 euros of funding per year. 46 Known for its more moderate interpretation of Islam coupled with deep roots in French society, the GMP is understandably the favorite of the government. Hanks P 21 44 Warner and Wenner, "Religion and the Political Organization of Muslims in Europe," 469. 45 Jonathan Laurence, Integrating Islam 99. 46 Laurence, Integrating Islam 102.


During the 1990s the Minister of the Interior, Charles Pasqua, expressed a sentiment in which all Muslim associations should align themselves with the GMP, which, in turn, would act as an "Islamic Vatican." 47 The GMP's rector, Dalil Boubakheur, has been a longtime favorite of the French authorities. He boldly denounced Al-Qaeda after September 11 and he also supports the Zionist movement, which has won him a plethora of praise from Westerners. 48 Unfortunately for the GMP, it is not a broadly representative organization in terms of its membership or its representation of French Muslim sentiments. But it still possesses significant influence. The GMP controls approximately fourteen percent of France's prayer spaces. 49 In an attempt to dilute the power of the GMP, the Union des Organisations Islamiques en France (Union of Islamic Organizations in France; UOIF) was founded in 1983. The UOIF is actually a French chapter of the European-wide Islamic group, the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe. 50 The UOIF is believed to receive approximately two-thirds of its funding from the Moroccan government. It is wellknown for its strict Quranic interpretations, some deem it a fundamentalist' federation. 51 During the headscarf affair in 1989, the UOIF was the only organization to offer legal support to the young girls that were expelled for wearing the hijab to school. 52 Each year, Hanks P 22 47 Katherine Pratt Ewing, "Legislating Religious Freedom: Muslim Challenges to the Relationship between Church' and State' in Germany and France," Daedalus 129 (Fall, 2000), 36. 48 Ibid., 103 49 Laurence, 101. 50 Ibid., 105. 51 Remy Leveau & Shireen T. Hunter, "Islam in France," in Islam, Europe's Second Religion ed. Shireen T. Hunter (CT: Praeger Publishers, 2002), 12. 52 Milton Viorst, "The Muslims of France," 86.


its leaders hold an Islamic fair where members can convene, enjoy tasty treats and music from the Arabic world, buy essential tools for various religious activities, and even contribute to charities to help needy Muslims in Palestine. 53 It is not uncommon to see a majority of the women at the fairs sporting a hijab or full veil. Outside UOIF-affiliated prayer spaces it is also very common to see lists of Israeli products to boycott. 54 On the other hand, the UOIF has taken steps towards developing a "French" form of Islam in founding Islamic schools to formally train imams. From the late 1980s to the present, the phenomenon of the foreign imam' has been argued to account for the lack of Muslim integration into French society. Imams had been imported from various Arabicspeaking countries because they were coveted for their knowledge of the Qur'an in its native language. Unfortunately, foreign imams have not aided in Muslim integration because of their lack of understanding of the French language, politics, culture, and history. Many see the solution of this problem to be founding programs to train imams in France. The UOIF has been the most proactive in doing this. One prominent example was the founding of an Islamic education branch in the European Institute for Social Sciences in 1991. 55 Along with the UOIF, the FŽdŽration Nationale des Musulmans en France (National Federation of French Muslims; FNMF) was established in 1985. Founded by Daniel Yousouf Leclerc, a French-born convert to Islam, the FNMF was not originally linked to a foreign government for support. However, it was not long before it became Hanks P 23 53 Ibid. 54 Laurence, 105. 55 Leslie Limage, "Education and the Muslim Identity: The Case of France," 89.


dominated by Moroccan influence. 56 Currently led by Moroccan-born Muhammed Bechari, the FNMF boasts a representation of the working-class Muslim,' and asserts influence over five hundred Islamic associations in France, making it the most representative federation of the three. 57 Several other Islamic federations exist in France. The GMP, UOIF, and FNMF are simply the largest and therefore the most influential. Among these three influential organizations, however, there exists bitter rivalry and storm of conflict. Each organization subscribes to its own interpretation of Islam, making it difficult to determine where France's Muslims stand on certain issues. During the headscarf affair in 1989, for example, the UOIF was one of the only organizations to support the wearing of the hijab in public schools. Several scholars argue that had there been more organized Muslim support for the hijab, the debate might have ended differently. The 1989 affair was an opportunity for such associations to unite and rally support for the practice of their religion. 58 Organizations like the GMP, on the other hand, do not support the hijab as it represents a more conservative interpretation of Islam that is problematic for French society. Rivalry among the major French Muslim federations has hindered government attempts to collaborate with the Muslim community as a whole. In the 1990s, the French government offered the GMP a very lucrative contract to open and run halal butcheries Hanks P 24 56 Ibid. 57 Laurence, 108. 58 Warner and Wenner, 470.


across France; a contract that would also free the GMP of foreign donors. 59 Opening halal butcheries across France would benefit the entire French Muslim community. Halal butchered meat is essential to practicing Muslim families. However, other federations protested and forced for the withdrawal of the contract, as they felt that it gave the GMP an unfair advantage. 60 This likely limited the number of halal butcheries available to the population. Unity among the three organizations remains elusive. Whether they are competing across different schools of Islamic thought or representing the cultural values and traditions of differing nations, associations and federations seem to be thinking more about their own interests than the interests of the French Muslim community as a whole. This is particularly problematic when they are a minority, and support is hard to find. The observed disunity of these federations may have been preventing many advancements for their religious communities. Section IV: Roots and Functions of the Islamic Councils As the headscarf affair emphasized disunity among various Muslim associations, Minister of the Interior Pierre Joxe recognized in 1990 the need for a council to represent the Islamic voice in French affairs. This recognition manifested itself in the creation of the Council of Reflection on Islam in France (CORIF). 61 The council was composed of fifteen designated members to advise the government on affairs of the practice of Islam in France. With no real powers, it was merely a consultative body. To make matters worse, Hanks P 25 59 Viorst, 93. 60 Ibid. 61 Winter, 84.


disagreements and struggles within the council made it difficult to come to a consensus on certain issues. Disputes included a formal position on the Gulf War and criteria for halal certification. 62 Soon after its creation, the council was dissolved as a result of internal power struggles. Nevertheless, CORIF was able to push for designated Muslim burial plots in cemeteries and provide halal food for Muslims serving in the military within the three years of its lifespan. 63 The government tried again at the creation of another representative body in 1993. The National Coordination of French Muslims (CNMF) mirrored the attributes and functions of CORIF. The organization lasted for less than a year. Having the impression of the government's alleged favoritism of the GMP over the other federations, the FMNF withdrew its support of the CNMF. 64 Again, internal power struggles among the competing associations led to the demise of another Islamic body. The failures of CORIF and the CNMF had a dampening effect on government attempts at creating another Muslim umbrella council as another serious attempt was not undertaken until the early 2000s. In 2003, the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) was established largely through the determination of Minister of the Interior Nicolas Sarkozy. 65 Unlike CORIF and CNMF, the CFCM was designed to be a democratic body. Its members were elected by faithful mosque attendees from the various Islamic associations. While the CFCM was to serve a similar role to the other Hanks P 26 62 Warner and Wenner, 470. 63 Ibid. 64 Winter, 85. 65 Laurence, 138.


councils--represent the Muslim voice in the political sphere--the CFCM was also to act as a miniature governing structure for the religious community. The CFCM is composed of three main bodies, the General Assembly, the Administrative Council, and the Executive Bureau. 66 The General Assembly meets annually to analyze the overall management of the council. It contains several elected officials from several different associations. The Administrative Council's main objective is to approve or reject budget propositions and legislation from the Executive Bureau. 67 The sixteen-member Executive Bureau is composed of the President, three Vice Presidents, 68 and twelve commissioners. With the capacity to propose decisions to the Administrative Council and overrule a decision by two-thirds vote, t he Bureau is the strongest arm of the CFCM. 69 Similar to a parliamentary structure, commissioners are elected by the three majority associations represented in the Administrative council. 70 The electoral process for the President and three Vice Presidents, however, is not quite clear. Whether they, too, are elected from Administrative Council members or elected separately from mosque-goers in general elections remains unanswered. To fulfill its functions, the CFCM is divided into ten specific commissions of specialization: the Audiovisual Communication Commission, which organizes the Hanks P 27 66 Le Site ofciel de l'Instance ReprŽsentative du Culte Musulman en France, "Sa Composition," http:// (Accessed Oct. 13, 2010). 67 Ibid. 68 Before 2008, there were two Vice Presidents. 69 Ibid. 70 Le Site ofciel de l'Instance ReprŽsentative du Culte Musulman en France, "Le Brochure," http:// (Accessed Oct. 14th, 2010)


various publications of the CFCM; the Chaplaincy Commission, which works with hospitals, the military, and prisons to establish Muslim chaplains; the Cemeteries and Burial Commission, which allocates funding for Muslim cemeteries and grave sites; the Inter-religious Dialogue Commission, which "reflects" on meetings, discussions, and relations with other religious groups; the Education Commission, which attempts to establish and fund places of higher learning for Islamic education; the Imam Commission, which sets the qualifications for and appoints imams to various mosques and prayer spaces; the Legal Commission, whose goal is to defend victims of Islamophobic acts; the Historical Commission, whose chief objective is to publish "great historical events of Muslims in France;" the Hajj Commission, which organizes the annual pilgrimage to Mecca; and the Halal and Ritual Slaughter Commission, which establishes and funds halal butcheries. 71 In sum, the CFCM is a highly organized body that is designed to cover all the facets to the practice of Islam. Officially, the council only represents the interests of the practicing Muslim community (those who attend prayer services, religious holidays, etc., on a regular basis). Unofficially, the CFCM's roles spill into the political realm. The government has called on the council to issue opinions on the headscarf, the war in Iraq, and antisemitism. 72 This where the CFCM shows some semblance to its parent councils, CORIF and CNMF. Section V: Cohesiveness and Effectiveness of the CFCM Hanks P 28 71 Le Site ofciel de l'Instance ReprŽsentative du Culte Musulman en France, "Les Commissions," http:// (Accessed Oct. 14, 2010). 72 Laurence, 157.


Although the CFCM is considerably more organized than CORIF and CNMF, it is not free of its own problems and internal power struggles. The council has suffered from some major electoral power struggles since its inception in 2003. Scholars like Mayanthi Fernando (2005) feel that the competing associations and federations that make up the CFCM will divert the agenda from Muslim accommodation to power politics. 73 Preoccupation with internal politics might hinder the overall effectiveness of the CFCM. What has the council contributed to the French Muslim community? When it comes to issues of religious practice in the public sphere, does the government even take the council seriously? Since is establishment in 2003, the CFCM has been an epicenter for power struggle. In its first year of life, elections to the General Assembly and Administrative Council showed an FNMF majority, with the UOIF slightly behind it and the GMP and a few minor federations filling the remaining seats of the council. 74 Nevertheless, Sarkozy agreed to appoint the president and two vice presidents for the first two years until the official election would take place in 2005. To no surprise, GMP rector Dalil Boubakheur was Sarkozy's pick for president, with leaders from the FNMF and UOIF to fill the vice presidents' positions. 75 Aware of the GMP's weak constituency in the next election, Boubakheur attempted to preserve his leadership over the CFCM for the 2005 election. He proposed that other issues like mosque size and overall quality of facilities should also Hanks P 29 73 Mayanthi Fernando, "The Republic's Second Religion:' Recognizing Islam in France," Middle East Report 325 (Summer 2005), 13. 74 Winter, 86. 75 Franck FrŽgosi, L'islam de France par les urnes : retour sur les Žlections du Conseil franais du culte musulman(2003-2005) L'AnnŽe du Maghreb [Online], II | 2005-2006, mis en ligne le 08 juillet 2010, consultŽ le 29 octobre 2010. URL :


be factored when determining the leadership of the CFCM. 76 Not only would this clearly favor the GMP, it would also not accurately reflect the popular Muslim voice. The GMP's rivals were quick to point these problems out. Moreover, Boubakheur and the GMP held reservations against FNMF along lines of nationality. Boubakheur foresaw himself being replaced by one of the leaders of the FMNF in the 2005 election because of the FMNF's larger constituency. The CFCM President launched a debate over a photo of Mohammad Bechari, President of the FMNF and collaborative Vice President of the CFCM, engaging in amiable relations with Abdul Nasser Madani at a meeting in Qatar. 77 The GMP's discontent with Bechari was founded on the premise that Madani was a longtime "enemy of the Algerian people." 78 It is problematic that the self-declared leaders of French Islam' are concerned with the affairs of the Algerian State. Instead of concerning themselves with the affairs confronting Muslims in France it appears that GMP members, in this instance, are dividing themselves from other Muslims on national lines. In addition, historical national rivalries are being used against other Muslims in the CFCM. A delegate of the GMP said during the controversy that, "soon the CFCM will become the French Council of the Moroccan Faith." 79 Hanks P 30 76 Mayanthi Fernando, "The Republic's Second Religion," 13. 77 "Le Torchon Brle entre les Musulmans," NouvelOBS, September 18, 2004, under ActualitŽ' http:// (Accessed November 2, 2010). 78 Ibid. 79 Ibid.


Fatigued with the power struggles, a member of the Executive Bureau, Dounia Bouzar, resigned from her position in January. Bouzar felt that the CFCM had become more of a battleground for political power and there was "no profound discussion of what it means to be a Muslim in secular France." 80 As a French-born Muslim she felt that the interests of French-born Muslims were not being represented or considered by the CFCM. She argued that distinctions based on national origin have left the interests of the French Muslim in the dark. What does this resignation from such a powerful post in the council reveal? Previous evidence suggests that rivalry among various associations has hindered the Islamic agenda in France. The GMP's electoral power struggle seems to solidify this notion. In what many Islamists would deem a coup, Boubakheur was able to maintain his presidency despite the FNMF's electoral dominance in the 2005 election. 81 Although federations within the CFCM have been firmly divided for several reasons, the Council has shown some cohesiveness in certain areas. The 2006 Danish caricature of the Prophet Muhammad is one example. The publication showed the "Twelve Faces of Muhammad." One of the images included a portrait of the Prophet with a bomb for a turban. Not only did it generalize the supposed radical nature of all Muslims, but according to the Islamic faith, it is highly forbidden to generate an image of the Prophet Muhammad. The GMP, UOIF, and FNMF were able to take a common stance on what Hanks P 31 80 Fernando, "The Republic's Second Religion:' Recognizing Islam in France,"13. 81 Winter, 86.


they felt was a "true provocation vis-ˆ-vis millions of French Muslims." 82 In this instance Boubakheur and his FNMF rival Bechari were able to come to a point of agreement under the provocation of an external actor. Even the UOIF echoed the battle cries of the FNMF and GMP, pushing for the indictment of the publisher for painting a negative image of Islam. Although some instances have shown the potential for cohesiveness among Muslim associations, overall effectiveness of the Council remains questionable. Of France's five million "Muslims," the CFCM only represents those Muslims who regularly attend local mosques and prayer spaces which is only between ten and thirty percent. 83 Those are the Muslims that are eligible to vote in the CFCM elections. Is 500,000 to 1.5 million Muslims large enough of a constituency for the government to take seriously? Despite the protests of certain CFCM members opposed to the 2004 ban on religious symbols in public schools, the National Assembly 84 passed the ban by an overwhelming majority (465 of 501 MPs). 85 While there were members of the CFCM who did support the ban, like the government-appointed President Boubakheur, it remains to be seen whether the Council's voice would be taken seriously if it opposed a position taken by the government. Hanks P 32 82 La PolŽmique Gagne la France," NouvelOBS, February 2, 2006, under ActualitŽ' http:// (Accessed November 2, 2010). 83 Fernando, 14. 84 The lower house of France's bicameral legislature; similar to the House of Representatives in American politics. 85 "French MPs Vote for Headscarf Ban," The Times, February 10, 2004, under Archive Article' http:// (Accessed October 31, 2010).


Section VI: Recent Developments and Implications for the Future of Islam in France Within the first years of its life, the CFCM faced many issues ranging from internal disputes to questions of its overall effectiveness as a Muslim representative. The electoral disputes between the GMP and the FNMF, and Boubakheur's allegations of Bechari's associations with enemies of Algeria' clearly demonstrate the rivalry among the different Muslim associations. It is also worth noting that power struggles are taking place within each association. Take for example the power politics issues within the FNMF. After the Federation's outstanding victory in the 2005 elections to the CFCM Bureau, the state of affairs within the association began to sour. Former FNMF president and CFCM vice president Mohammad Bechari found himself surrounded by opposition within the organization he was leading. 86 As a result of the increasing conflict and polarization, the Association of French Muslims (RMF) rose out of the FNMF's demise. In comparison to the other strong associations that have existed since the early 1980s, the RMF seemed to gain support overnight. Similar to the GMP, the RMF preaches a moderate Islam that is tolerant of the secular ideals and Western ideology. 87 The RMF's close relationship with Morocco did not prevent it from achieving an astounding victory in the 2008 elections to the CFCM, obtaining nearly fifty percent of the votes! 88 It was an amazing victory for an association that was first established two years prior. Hanks P 33 86 "RMF, un Nouveau' Mouvement Musulman," Sapher News, June 20, 2006, under Accueil' http://,-un-nouveau-mouvement-musulman_a3672.html (Accessed November 3, 2010). 87 Ibid. 88 "Conseil Franais dul Culte Musulman : Le Maroc Prend la Main," Afrik, June 9, 2008, under Journal' (Accessed November 3, 2010).


Dalil Boubakheur has also finally reached the end of his presiding over the Council. He was replaced by the charismatic RMF president Mohammad Moussaoui, who is the most recent CFCM president. Similar to the GMP, Mr. Moussaoui has preached a tolerant Islam that accepts the cultural, linguistic, and ideological differences within the Muslim community and other religions, and an Islam that is in sync with the secular beat of the French society. Very recently in 2010, Moussaoui called for "fraternity, solidarity, sharing, respect, and tolerance" among French Muslims on the first day of Ramadan. 89 The President reminded participants of the importance of the month of fasting and that, despite national and ideological differences, they are still brothers and sisters of Islam. In the same speech, Moussaoui also called for the month of Ramadan to signify tolerance and cooperation on an inter-religious level. 90 He argues that cohesiveness should not be limited to the French Muslim community, it should include all the diverse faiths in France. More recently, Moussaoui and the CFCM defended the French government against a violent threat from Al Qaeda. Because it is nearly certain that the government will pass legislation on a public ban on the burqa, Osama bin Laden has threatened leaders with a terrorist attack if they do not change their position on the ban. The government refused to change its position. President Moussaoui expressed strong support for the government, claiming that Al Qaeda's threats are only tarnishing the Hanks P 34 89 "Le CFCM Veillera au Bon DŽroulement du Mois de Ramadan," Le Matin, August 11, 2010, under ActualitŽ' (Accessed November 6, 2010). 90 Ibid.


image of Islam internationally. 91 Whether or not Moussaoui keeps his post after the next election may indicate whether the majority of Muslims support the President's position on the ban. I have not, however, found any recent evidence revealing any strong opposition to the CFCM's stance, which may reflect common ground between France and its Muslims on this subject that has plagued headlines since 1989. How successful are Muslim associations and the CFCM in their representation of France's Muslims? What is the direction of Islam in France? I would argue that representation of the Muslim voice has improved considerably since mass immigration in the 1960s. The process, however, has been rather gradual. After noticing their lack of mobilization in the 1970s and 1980s, the government modified the 1901 Law on Associations to permit the formation of immigrant associations. This was one small step towards mobilization, but it still evoked more conflict among varying ideologies and nationalities. Immersed in the headscarf affair in 1990, Pierre Joxe sought the creation of a consultative council (CORIF) to represent the various voices of Islam in France. CORIF was not successful, however, due to internal differences among its appointed members. A few other attempts at a body similar to CORIF were made throughout the 1990s, but each was short-lived. By 2003, Nicolas Sarkozy had a better idea: to establish an Islamic council (CFCM) whose members were not appointed by government officials, but instead elected by the Muslim population. Direct elections would then minimize rivalry among various associations, as they would reflect voices of the majority, as opposed to the Hanks P 35 91 "Le Conseil franais du culte musulman condamne les menaces de Ben Laden," AFP, October 30, 2010 docId=CNG.dd7c62f0e167ccb9f10b3aaf334c2e69.661 (Accessed November 7, 2010).


preferences of non-Muslim politicians. Despite its promise the first few years of the CFCM were rather turbulent under the leadership of the government's appointed favorite, Dalil Boubakheur. Since the CFCM elections in 2008, where leadership was reflected by electoral majority for the first time, I have found no evidence suggesting internal dissension within the Council. It is too early to make an accurate assertion, but such tranquility within the Council might indicate a fair representation of Islam in France. Finally, Islam in France appears to be moving towards a more moderate, prosecular form. This evolution is evident in the CFCM's backing of the government on its endeavor to ban the burqa in the public sphere. Many Muslims seem to agree with the government that the burqa is only a constrictive element for women in Western society. Importantly, a 2005 poll revealed that 95% of French Muslims had a favorable opinion of France as a whole. 92 I would argue that such a view might imply a move towards a more French practice of Islam, where more traditional practices like the wearing of the burqa and Shari'a are prohibited from the secular landscape. Hanks P 36 92 Laurence, 47.


II At Last, A Mosque in Marseille The French Republic, home to Europe's largest Muslim population, possesses a serious inequity regarding religious accommodation towards her Muslim constituents. One of the most fundamental areas in which France is lacking in Muslim accommodation is mosque construction. The Republic contains five hundred synagogues to accommodate 600,000 Jews, 43,569 cathedrals to accommodate 45 million Catholics, but only 1,685 mosques for 5 million Muslims. 93 Furthermore, only twenty mosques in France have the capacity to hold one thousand or more worshippers at one time, leading to a serious spillover of faithful Muslims prostrating themselves in the streets and courtyards during prayer hours in cities across France. This shortage of sufficient, dignified Muslim prayer facilities has led to the conversion of houses, old business fronts, and basements into meager, makeshift places of worship. Living in a post-9/11 world, where Islamic fundamentalism is on the rise, the French government is beginning to recognize the importance of sufficiently accommodating its Muslim population. As Minister of the Interior, Nicolas Sarkozy is credited with saying, "Citizens need not fear minarets overtaking city skylines; instead, they should fear garages and basements." 94 The Republic is in the rocky position of choosing to neglect the historical handicaps of Islam's late arrival and defending its secular agenda, or compromising secular thought to be more accommodating to Islam. Hanks P 37 93 Jonathan Laurence, Integrating Islam (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2006), 83. 94 Nicolas Sarkozy, "Muslims should not have more rights than others, but we must ensure they don't have fewer," Le Monde, October 26, 2004. (Accessed September 15, 2010)


French Žlites such as Sarkozy have implied that choosing the latter might deter domesticbred Islamic fundamentalism. Helping to provide more dignified prayer spaces might be one solution. In July of 2010, Marseille's Muslims finally attained what they had been working towards since 1937: the approval to build a large, central mosque. Because Marseille is informally known as France's de facto Muslim capital, it is interesting that this project is finally happening after 73 years. Other cities such as Clichy-sous-Bois, Lyon, and Evry have already constructed enormous mosques, capable of holding 1500 or more worshippers. For a city boasting one of the largest Islamic populations in France, largescale mosque construction seems long overdue. Several decades of endeavoring may imply some crucial factor [or factors] that have delayed this project for so long. The first section of this paper will uncover the important components of a mosque. Understanding the importance of mosques to Muslim communities will help in clarifying the imperative of mosque-building. After that, section two will present Marseille's 73-year endeavor to construct a community mosque. This query will cover the first attempt in 1937, the failed attempts in the years that followed, and the more recent development in 2010. Finally, section three will provide an assessment of the necessary conditions for mosque construction in France. This should help the reader understand why it has taken 73 years to lay the first brick for a mosque in Marseille. Section I: What is a mosque? Understanding the full range of functions that a mosque serves in Muslim communities is instructive. Generally, most Muslims view the mosque as a unifying Hanks P 38


community entity that enhances fraternity among attendees and faithful followers. It covers all aspects of Islamic life, providing guidance from spiritual pursuits to more tangible, earthly endeavors. First, the most obvious service a mosque provides is a place to pray. The Arabic name for mosque is masajid literally meaning, "a place of prostration." Five times every day, the muezzin 95 sounds and faithful Muslims arrive at the mosque to pray. As worshippers must remove their shoes and wash their hands before prayer, the mosque provides them a place to remove their shoes and wash their hands upon entering the prayer hall. Inside the prayer hall, the qiblah marks the direction in which all Muslims must pray: towards the Kaaba 96 in Mecca. Such a function is imperative to the Islamic community as one of the Five Pillars of Islam is to pray five times each day in the direction of Mecca. Within the context of prayer, however, Qur'anic scriptures remind Muslims that all that is required for prayer is "sand for the floor and a sky for the roof." 97 This simplicity of faith, however, does not translate well to Islam in a secular land such as France. Five million Muslims prostrating themselves five times each day across various city streets, cafŽs, and other public venues in France would cause an outrage. Thus, for the purposes of prayer, a mosque might be particularly appreciated by both Muslims and non-Muslims in France. Hanks P 39 95 Leader of the "Call to Prayer." Serves a similar purpose to bell towers in Cathedrals: reminding worshippers that services will be starting. 96 The most sacred site in Islam. All Muslims must pray in its direction, no matter where they are in the world. 97 Lisa Michelle Stark, Do Muslims Make the Difference: Explaining Variation on Mosque Building Policies in Western Europe (British Colombia: University of British Colombia, 2008), 9.


Along with prayer, another important function of a mosque is to provide community services. During the times of Prophet Muhammad, 98 the original Mosque of Medina not only provided prayer space, it also served as a resource of aid to the Islamic community. The original mosque was a place of learning (for both adults and children), a medical center for the sick, a childcare facility, and a place where the poor would be taken care of. 99 The community mosque was where one would go to learn to read the Qur'an, preferably in Arabic. Mosques are essential to maintaining a strong, healthy, and unified religious community. Along with prayer and community functions, the mosque also symbolized the epicenter for social activity. Social functions including holidays, weddings and birthdays revolved around the mosque. It was also a place in which Muslims could mingle with each other, celebrate holidays, and partake of many other fun activities. During the International Islamic Conference in 1975, the Muslim World League 100 (MWL) determined which facets should constitute a mosque and how it should function. The Conference considered the mosque to be the center of social life, merging social activities with religious activities. Also, all mosques should provide the following: a prayer hall with ventilation, heating, a separate space for women to pray, a library, a lecture hall, a reading room, a place for Qur'anic teaching to children, a playground, a Hanks P 40 98 Founder of Islam. 99 Sheikh. Sayed Ad-Darsh, "The Present Functions of the Mosque," IslamOnline, http:// %2FLSELayout&cid=1209357781526 (Accessed September 15, 2010). 100 The MWL is an international non-governmental organization that promotes a more conservative interpretation of Islam worldwide. It does this through nancial support of various charities and domestic organizations.


small clinic for medical emergencies, a hall for funeral functions, and accommodations for new guests. 101 Much like the early days of Islam, the global Muslim community seems to be in agreement that a mosque should serve a multitude of important functions. Such functions should not be limited to the religious sphere; mosques must also be a valuable resource for community and social functions as well. In sum, a central mosque is essential to a strong, unified Muslim community. In France this is especially important. For one, in a country where Islam is a minority religion, a mosque would serve as a comforting mechanism for immigrants feeling displaced from France's public, secular atmosphere. A mosque would symbolize a place where Muslims could go to feel more accepted for their religious beliefs. Second, Muslims are statistically more religious than members of other religious denominations in France. 102 Thus, a dignified prayer space would be put to good use by French Muslims. Arguments in favor of mosques also tout the benefits to the rest of French society. Because France is a secular country, the practice of religion in the public sphere is socially unacceptable. A sufficiently equipped mosque would provide a private place for Muslims to pray each day. Islamic rituals and holidays, such as Eid al-Adha 103 would be practiced within the privacy of the mosque. This would minimize the potential for conflict as it would shield culturally foreign practices from Western eyes. Additionally, Hanks P 41 101 Ibid. 102 StŽphanie Giry, "France and Its Muslims," Foreign Affaires 85 (Sept.-Oct., 2006): 93. 103 Islamic festival of sacrice. Commemorates Ibrahim's intent to sacrice his son Ishmael for Allah. Each Muslim family is to sacrice a domestic animal such as a sheep, goat, or cow on this holiday.


many supporters argue that mosque construction would improve the conditions of lowincome neighborhoods. In 2004, interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy expressed his support for the establishment of mosques in low-income districts; he hypothesized their potential for, "cleaning up French neighborhoods." 104 In sum, there is evidence that both Muslims and non-Muslims have vital interests in mosque construction in France. Section II: History of Mosques in Marseille Since its official occupation of Algeria in the late 1800s, France has tried to position itself as a friend of Islam. In 1926, for their efforts and support during the First World War, the city of Paris built The Great Mosque of Paris. After noting a growing Islamic population in 1930s Marseille, coupled with inspiration of the Paris Mosque, several officials pondered the notion of constructing a grand mosque in South France. Soon after, the Marseillan Council of the Mosque of Marseille was formed to lead the project. 105 The project also had the solid support of Mayor Henri Tasso, who offered a building site for the mosque near the St. Charles Railway in the heart of city. Representatives of the Paris Mosque, however, wanted to take over the project and make the mosque an affiliate with the one in Paris. Disputes among differing Muslim groups in Marseille and the Paris mosque led to the project's abrupt abandonment in 1937. Five years later, discussions on building a central mosque in Marseille were revived. For eight years, debates persisted over the project. By 1950, an action plan was set and the project seemed close to becoming a reality. The building site across from the Hanks P 42 104 Jonathan Laurence, Integrating Islam 144. 105 Marcel Maussen, "Islamic Presence and Mosque Establishment in France: Colonialism, Arrangements for Guestworkers and Citizenship," Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 33 (2007), 991.


St. Charles Railway was still offered by Mayor Tasso. However, Ben Ghabist, president of the Paris Mosque, put a halt to the project as it was, "against Islamic tradition to establish a mosque on real estate from a non-Muslim." 106 Alas, central mosque construction in Marseille was stymied again. For the forty years that followed, there appears to be no evidence that reveals, suggests, or implies any further attempts at mosque construction. In 1989 the arrival of new Mayor Robert Vigoroux renewed discussion of a mosque for Marseille's Muslims. Vigoroux was very supportive of the notion of a central mosque. Within ten days of the mayor voicing his support, a wealthy Algerian business man brought to municipal leaders an unnecessarily ambitious design for the project. Not only did he propose additions of a cultural and commercial complex but he voiced his intention to have the minarets to tower fifty meters high and have a capacity of 15,000 to 17,000 worshippers. 107 Such capacity is roughly a quarter the size of a football stadium! Given growing concerns about the size of ambitious plan, it was unsurprising that the plans were abandoned. That year also ushered in the controversy with the hijab in public schools, adding to the backdrop of negative media coverage directed at France's Muslim community. 108 Beyond the excessively ambitious project design, a souring public mood would have been another obstacle that stood in the way of in bringing the project to fruition. Hanks P 43 106 Ibid., 992. 107 Ibid., 994. 108 Bronwyn Winter, Hijab & The Republic: Uncovering the French Headscarf Debate (Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press, 2008), 130.


In 1999, the flame was relit. Faithful followers of Islam were fed up having to conduct prayer services in rundown buildings and moldy basements, shielded from the public eye. They petitioned to the mayor, Jean-Claude Gaudin, among other municipal leaders, to have a more dignified, central mosque in which to practice their faith. 109 By the early 2000s, divisive factions began to form around the proposed mosque. One group, the Council of Imams of Greater Marseille, a more conservative Islamist group, announced their conditional support for the mosque if it were to be used solely as a prayer space. In other words, the mosque would only serve as a place for religious functions. Another group, the more moderate and less-organized affiliates of the GMP felt that the mosque ought to serve broader social functions beyond religious practice. 110 This group saw the intended mosque more as a community and cultural center, similar to the central mosque in Paris. The creation of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) in 2003 only complicated matters for Gaudin in selecting a leading Muslim organization to lead the project. Plans for the Great Mosque of Marseille were put to rest for two years when the political dynamics of the CFCM changed with the election of Abderrahmane Ghoul as president of the CFCM's Regional Council in Marseille. Because Ghoul was a more moderate Muslim and charismatic speaker, Gaudin supported his taking charge of the project. This was a positive step on the part of Mayor Gaudin. Ghoul was able to rally the support of several Islamic associations to unite under the Mosque association of Hanks P 44 109 Maussen, "Islamic Presence and Mosque Establishment in France: Colonialism, Arrangements for Guestworkers and Citizenship," 995. 110 Carolyn M. Warner, Cemeteries and Mosques: Muslim Collective Action in Switzerland and France (Arizona: Arizona State University, 2009), 33.


Marseille ," which in 2007, signed a emphyteutic lease 111 with the city for an 8000 square meter plot of land. 112 In July 2010, the first stone of the Great Mosque of Marseille was laid. The site of the intended structure is far from the picturesque surroundings of the Old Port in central Marseille. Ironically, the mosque will be replacing the old pig abattoir in the outskirts of the city, a previously frequented hotspot for drug trafficking and drug usage. 113 Aside from its location, other facets of the mosque were compromised before its construction. For one, there will be no muezzin neither live nor recorded. Local residents do not want to hear the call to prayer slicing through the sound waves five times each day. Instead, there will be a powerful beam of light to signify the call to prayer. Green, the official color of Islam, was the first contender for the color of the flashing light. However, green is also color used to usher cargo ships into port. A green beam of light would confuse ships out at sea. A red beam, on the other hand, would clash with emergency services. Thus, purple was decided upon to signify the call to prayer. Furthermore, the mosque will not only provide religious services, but it will also serve as a community center. The structure will also include a library, a restaurant, and several other non-religious facilities. 114 Hanks P 45 111 Real estate leased at a symbolically low rate with the intent that the lessee will improve the conditions of the property. 112 Ibid. 113 "Marseille's Muslims Eye Long Awaited Mosque," BBC News, July 6, 2010, under Europe' http:// (Accessed Sept. 12, 2010). 114 Ibid.


Although the first symbolic stone has been laid, paying for the rest of the project will prove to be an issue in the future. As the project has been estimated to cost approximately 20 million euros, many are skeptical of the project ever being completed; additionally, most of the funding that has been secured for the project has been from foreign donors in Algeria, Saudi Arabia, and other Middle East and North African countries. 115 This fact has given opponents like the FN plenty of fodder to speak out against the project. FN party officials like Stephane Ravier argue that foreign funding for the mosque reveals Islam's disconnection from French life, society, and politics. 116 Only time will tell whether the mosque's opponents will gain enough leeway to halt the construction that has already taken place. Section III: Assessment of Necessary Conditions Why has this happened now? Why is there construction of a 20 million euro mosque in France's deFacto Muslim capital in 2010? To answer this question, it is fundamental to understand the conditions necessary for mosque construction in French cities. There are five hurdles to be passed through before such a grand prayer facility can be opened. The five hurdles include: (1) agreement between the Islamic community and local governments (2) agreement within the Islamic community (3) consistency of structure, design, and function of the facility with local rules and expectations (4) adequate Financing (5) land to build the mosque upon. Hanks P 46 115 Ibid. 116 Ibid.


To begin, the first possible factor for mosque construction in France is accordance between the Islamic community and the local government. Similar to the United States, French municipal governments possess a considerable amount of power regarding building permits for large-scale construction projects. Furthermore, because government officials are democratically elected, their support might be a reflection of the will of community as a whole. Stated alternatively, if elected officials are willing to support the project, it is likely that their constituents will support it as well. Government support may indicate that the project will not suffer considerable resistance from other residents in the community. Therefore, the support of the local government authorities is the first necessary factor in mosque construction. In the past few decades, there have been cases where mosque construction was halted because Muslim associations did not acquire the approval from the local government. An example is the mosque-building attempt in the city of CharvieuChavagneux. A small industrial town about thirty minutes east of Lyon, Charvieu is home to about eight hundred Muslims. By the mid-1980s, Charvieu's Muslims had acquired a sufficient prayer space: a rundown factory cafeteria. 117 A few years later, however, right-wing mayor GŽrard Dezempte expressed different designs for the area surrounding the prayer space. Trying to avoid conflict, the Imam from the makeshift prayer space offered to give up residence in the cafeteria if they would receive a building permit to construct their own mosque. 118 Unfortunately, the mayor declined the request. Hanks P 47 117 Joel S. Fetzer and Christopher Soper, Muslims and the State in Britain, France, and Germany (New York: Cambridge University Press), 88. 118 Ibid.


In 1987 Charvieu's determined Muslims applied a second time for permission to construct a mosque after acquiring a decent plot of land; just as before, Dezempte declined their request for the building permit. 119 By August 1989, conditions had gotten exponentially worse. Just after the morning prayer services, worshippers in the makeshift prayer space were surprised with a bulldozer bursting through the walls to demolish their facility. 120 Fortunately, there were no casualties and the mayor claimed responsibility for the calamity, explaining that he planned to demolish a nearby building and the wrecking company had been "mistaken." 121 Whether the demolition was an accident or not, the support of Dezempte and the local government were not behind the construction of a mosque in Charvieu. The local government did not accept the concept of a mosque in the community, and the project was halted, even after land was acquired. Alternatively, there have been cases where municipal governments have supported the establishment of a central Muslim prayer facility. The construction of the Grand Mosque of Lyon is a more positive example of local governments' power of influence in mosque construction. In Lyon, Muslim organizations officially received the endorsements of mayor Michel Noir in 1990. 122 Noir was able to rally support for the Islamic associations in Lyon, which permitted the Grand Mosque of Lyon's establishment four years later. Lyon is a prime example of the importance of municipal support to the Hanks P 48 119 Ibid. 120 "In an Inhospitable French Town, Muslims Struggle to Rebuild Their Mosque," New York Times, August 23, 1989, under World,' (Accessed September 15, 2010). 121 Ibid. 122 Lisa Michelle Stark, Do Muslims Make the Difference 67.


practice of Islam in France. Without the support of Noir, the construction of a large Islamic prayer facility in Lyon would not have been possible. Agreement between local government and the Islamic community is just one crucial stepping stone among many on the path towards mosque construction. Although the Muslims of Lyon attained local government approval on the project, it was not the sole factor that permitted the project coming into fruition. The Muslims of Marseille, for example, have had backing from their local government for several years. Since the first attempt at mosque construction in 1937, government officials have largely been supportive of the project Three of Marseille's mayors, Tasso (1937), Virgoroux (1989), and Gaudin (present) have been avid supporters of a central mosque. Despite the cooperative attitude of the local government mosque construction was not achieved until 2010. This indicates that there must be other factors facilitating the construction of the mosque. In addition to cooperation between the local government and the Islamic community, cooperation within the Islamic community is another necessary factor in mosque construction. Failed attempts at mosque construction in several French cities suggest the presence of a common obstacle: disunity among interest groups for mosque construction. Scholars like Warner and Wenner hold that disunity among Muslims might be traceable to the fact that Islam is not a hierarchical religion, with a cohesive power at its epicenter. 123 Hierarchical religions like Catholicism are more organized, which facilitates followers cohesiveness. Islam has no strong, central power like the Vatican Hanks P 49 123 Carolyn M. Warner and Manfred W. Wenner, "Religion and the Political Organization of Muslims in Europe," Perspectives on Politics 4 (Sep., 2006), 461.


which has paved the way to several different denominations like Sufi, Shia, and Sunni Islam. Various interpretations of Islam would certainly make it difficult for various Muslim communities from across the globe come to a consensus on certain issues. Whatever the case, several projects have stagnated as a result of this lack of unity. Rifts within the Muslim community are particularly evident in the case of mosque construction in Mulhouse. Mulhouse, a French industrial town not far from the German and Swiss borders, is home to a very active Muslim immigrant population. Throughout the 1980s, Mulhouse's Muslims were content with practicing their faith in modestly converted office venues and makeshift mosques. As Islam in Mulhouse began to grow and prayer spaces began to overflow with worshippers, however, many felt the need to construct a large, central mosque to cater to their needs. 124 Before receiving the support of the municipal leadership for a building permit, the mosque hopefuls were required to create an association to run the project. Shortly after, they established an association called the Conseil Islamique de Mulhouse (Islamic Council of Mulhouse), led by Senegalese Rabih Redad. 125 Tensions escalated in 1992, however, when rumors of North African hegemony over the project circulated. Select Turkish Islamic groups expressed discord over Redad's monopoly over the project and the various interpretations of how the mosque would function once erected. Differing opinions contributed to the mosque of Mulhouse never coming into fruition in the 1990s. Had there been more unification and consensus among Mulhouse's Muslim population, the project might not have failed. Hanks P 50 124 Carolyn M. Warner, Cemetaries and Mosques 24. 125 Ibid., 25.


In the case of Marseille, the recent debut of mosque construction might stem from the unification and organization of Muslim associations. Historically, there have been quite a few disputes among various Muslim associations in Marseille and with the Paris Mosque. Such disputes have certainly stymied or slowed mosque construction in Marseille. Recently, however, the appointment of the religiously moderate Abderrahmane Ghoul was the essential glue that was needed to unify and rally supporters for the mosque. As president of CFCM regional council in Marseille, Ghoul was able to unite Marseille's Muslims for the project. Another important factor in mosque construction is compromise on the structure, design, and functions of the mosque. From a radical perspective, one might view attempts at mosque construction as an inadvertent colonial attack. For example, a 1990 FN political campaign poster read, "There were 50 mosques 15 years ago. There are almost 1,500 today and every month tens of new ones are being built in every region in France. Yesterday immigrants refused our culture, today they want to impose their own on us." Although many citizens do not follow the radical rhetoric of the FN, national and municipal leaders might prefer Muslims to be more moderate and less intrusive in their religious practices. Mosques would not be large, architecturally obtrusive structures. Minarets would dominate neither rural landscapes nor city skylines. Instead, mosques would be characterized by simple architecture, blending in with the traditional architecture of French cities. Conversely, Muslims would idealize a France where the government would wholeheartedly accept Islamic religious practices. Contemporary society would be more Hanks P 51


accepting of their "foreign" practices and understand the imperativeness to unite under a central mosque. Each French city or town would have a central mosque, just as each possesses a cathedral or church. Such mosques would be beautiful grandiose structures, with towering minarets playing the "Call to Prayer" five times a day throughout the streets. They would be places of worship, exclusive to only faithful Muslims in the community. Unfortunately, both parties cannot have all that they desire. A certain degree of compromise of the structure, design, and function of the facility is essential Again, let us use the Grand Mosque of Lyon for example. In the 1970s, the Muslims of Lyon were renting out old churches to conduct their daily prayer services. This, however, was too psychologically damaging to local Catholics! 126 To see a foreign faith conducted in a run down Catholic facility was unthinkable. Years following, the drive for Lyon's Muslims to construct their own place of worship began. Throughout most of the 1970s and 1980s, Muslims and the government were caught in a legal deadlock on the architecture and functions of the proposed mosque. Many French citizens did not want a mosque in their own backyards, with minarets bursting through Lyon's skyline. Furthermore, they did not want to hear the muezzin's sound cascading through the streets. However, after more than a decade of compromising, along with the avid support of Michel Noir, the Muslims of Lyon finally got their mosque. The Grand Mosque of Lyon was equipped with smaller minarets, so it would be less obtrusive on the other structures in the city; additionally, Lyon's Muslims accepted a muffled Call to Prayer that could only be heard from within Hanks P 52 126 Fetzer and Soper, Muslims and the State in Britain, France, and Germany 87.


the mosque. 127 Because of such compromise on the design of the mosque, Muslims were able to construct a mosque in Lyon. Similar to the case of Lyon, Marseille's Muslims had to endure their share of compromise on the structure and design of their proposed mosque. There will be no call to prayer disturbing tranquility of French neighborhoods. Instead, a flashing beam of purple light will signify the call to prayer. Unlike Lyon, however, the minarets of the grand facility will stand 24 meters (80 feet) in the sky. 128 Evidently, the architectural design of the mosque in Marseille was less of an issue than in Lyon. However, this may be explained by the next condition in this analysis: land. Without a suitable place to build the facility, the project would never come to fruition. Interestingly, there is a government remedy to aid in clearing this hurdle. There is a legal loophole allowing the government to aid Muslim organizations in mosque construction. In 1961, the French government gave city governments the discretion to grant emphyteutic lease which allows for a 99-year lease on private property for a symbolic rate of 1 euro per year. 129 These leases are very helpful for two reasons. They give Islamic associations the opportunity to divert more resources to the building expenses of the actual facility. What is more important, emphyteutic lease implies the support of the local government, which may indicate that there is a general support of the construction project in the community. Hanks P 53 127 Milton Viorst, "The Muslims of France," Foreign Affaires 75 (Sep. Oct. 1996), 81. 128 "Marseille's Muslims Eye Long Awaited Mosque," BBC News. 129 Laurence, 84.


After competing Muslim associations were able to agree on the project designs in 2007, the city of Marseille granted emphyteutic lease for an 8000 square meter plot of land. 130 This was likely a critical factor highly beneficial to those involved with the project. However, the property is not one of the most desired locations in the city of Marseille. The intended mosque site is a great distance from the picturesque neighborhoods of the Old Port of central Marseille. The structure will be replacing the old pig abattoir on the edge of the municipality. This particular site was once a frequent hotspot for a myriad of drug activity. 131 Because of its distance from the city center, could this be an explanation for the city's allowance of 24 meter high minarets? At the same time, the mosque's placement might be an attempt to clean up a rough area of the city, along the lines of Sarkozy's sentiment that mosque construction may help "clean up the banlieues." Whether or not the placement of the intended facility is an attempt of city officials to drive delinquency out of that area of the city, land acquisition is another necessary hurdled cleared by Marseille's Muslims on their path to mosque construction. Finally, sometimes the most crucial element in mosque construction is financial support. France's Muslims can attain building permits from municipal leaders, compromise with government officials, and successfully mobilize and unite themselves, but a central mosque cannot truly emerge without sufficient funding for construction. In France, Muslim associations can receive financial support for mosque construction from two sources. The first source is foreign donors. Foreign funding has come from the Prince of Saudi Arabia and the Algerian government. Muslim international organizations Hanks P 54 130 Carolyn M. Warner, Cemetaries and Mosques 34. 131 "Marseille's Muslims Eye Long Awaited Mosque."


like the Muslim World League (MWL) have also funded French mosques. Prayer facilities of Clichy, Lyon, and Paris plus several simple prayer spaces in Evry, and Mantes-la-Jolie have been funded in large part by wealthy foreign donors. 132 The Muslim associations of Clichy, for example, received a significant portion of funding from King Muhammad VI of Morocco (for a mosque projected to cost 4 million euros). 133 The French government, on the other hand, has been unnerved by the flow of foreign money into construction projects within its own borders. This phenomenon has put the French government in a position to minimize foreign involvement in domestic affairs and compromise its secular ideals in order to aid in mosque funding. In the past, there have been a few sources of financial support from the government for mosque construction. Unfortunately, they have not been wholly sufficient to complete the projects undertaken. Upon receiving a building permit from municipal leaders for mosque construction, Muslim associations may choose one of two options for financial aid from the government. One option is to register under the 1901 Law on Associations. Registering under this law enables them to be eligible for municipal subsidies to use towards mosque construction. 134 However, registering under the 1901 law risks local politicization of the intended mosque This politicization might enhance the local governments's decision-making power on the structure, functions, and funding for the Hanks P 55 132 Laurence, 115. 133 "Enn Une MosquŽe ˆ Clichy," (Accessed Sept. 16, 2010). 134 Laurence, 85.


mosque. For example, politicization stymied the progress of the grand mosque in Strasbourg. After the association registered under the 1901 law in the late 1990s, the city agreed to subsidize ten percent (approximately 6 million euros) of the costs to build a central mosque. 135 However, this gave the city power to disallow funding from foreign donors (particularly Gulf States), which it did. As a result, the project was halted. The organizations involved with the project have not been able to acquire sufficient donations for the mosque, and it has yet to be completed to this day. Instead of the 1901 law, associations have the liberty to register under the 1905 law Separating Church and State. Doing this enables the costs of mosque construction to be tax-exempt, as the facility would be used for religious purposes. 136 Instead of running the risk of politicizing the mosque, the 1905 law removes the project from the hands of local government to the legal and administrative realm. A major drawback to the 1905 law is that it restricts any nonreligious activities that would be included in the mosque. Thus, nonreligious activities like sports, daycare, and education, would have to be excluded from the project. The disallowance of the community components of the mosque would deviate from the traditional conception of a mosque. As noted earlier, the first mosques were also conceived to be community centers. In the recent case of Marseille, it is difficult to find substantially conclusive evidence of funding for the project since construction is so recent. There is not official documentation on whether the mosque has been registered under the 1901 law or 1905 law. Therefore, it cannot be determined if the city of Marseille is subsidizing the mosque, Hanks P 56 135 Warner, Cemetaries and Mosques 28. 136 Laurence, 85.


or if the Muslim association involved with the construction is eligible for a tax exemption. There are, however, a few unofficial implications. Because the mosque is projected to provide non religious community functions, the association might be registered under the 1901 law. In the long run, it is inconclusive whether the mosque will be completed, let alone by its ambitious 2011 deadline. Although the Muslim associations affiliated with the project have secured funding from Algeria and Saudi Arabia, many are skeptical that it will be enough to satisfy the estimated 20 million euros needed. Will the Grand Mosque of Marseille suffer a similar fate to the Mosque of Strasbourg? Will it stand alone in its location, gray, bleak, and incomplete? With the first stone laid, let us hope that the mosque will be completed. Time is only the true indicator though. Conclusion So, why a mosque in France's de facto Muslim capital' after a 73-year-long endeavor? Given the five necessary factors to mosque construction in France, it seems apparent that two factors have not been a hinderance to the construction process. Since 1937, cooperation between municipal leaders and the Muslim community has not been problematic. Two of Marseille's most recent mayors have been wholly supportive of mosque construction. Along with that, land acquisition has also not been an issue. As early as 1950, local officials offered real estate for the mosque to be built. On the other hand, the structure and functions element may have hindered mosque construction attempts in the late 1980s. Because the project designs were excessively ambitious (estimated to house 15,000 to 17,000 worshippers), it can be implied that Hanks P 57


parties affiliated with the project were being unrealistic. Especially since in 2010, when the Islamic community has grown to a quarter of a million, the current mosque is already ambitious enough with a 7,000 person capacity and 20 million-euro price tag. One of the greatest hinderances has been a lack of agreement within the Muslim community. This is evident in 1950, when the president of the Paris Mosque put a halt to the project as it was, "against Islamic tradition to establish a mosque on real estate from a non-Muslim." Differing interpretations of what Muslims may and may not do have certainly been harmful to Marseille's Muslims. Furthermore, a consensus was not reached until 2007, when mayor Gaudin stepped in and appointed the charismatic Abderrahmane Ghoul to lead the project. Ghoul was able to successfully unite the differing parties involved with the project. Is it coincidental that three years after Ghoul's appointment as project leader, the first stone has been laid? Despite a substantial amount of progress from the planning and designing of the project, to the laying of the founding stone, victory will not be achieved until the project is complete. The final necessary factor, funding, has yet to be secured. Thus, in my opinion, the Muslims of Marseille still have one hurdle to clear. Upon reading this chapter, it is obvious that two cross cutting themes dominate the tone: the French Revolution's adherence to equality and France's historical ties to Algeria. As mentioned earlier, France presently contains five hundred synagogues to accommodate 600,000 Jews, 43,569 cathedrals to accommodate 45 million Catholics, but only 1,685 mosques for 5 million Muslims. Apart from this large, quantitative inequality in prayer space representation, it seems that the quality of the already existing prayer Hanks P 58


spaces is unsatisfactory. Some spaces, particularly in Marseille, do not have running water, adequate plumbing, or even air conditioning. The overall significance of this chapter lends itself to the imperativeness for France to correct this inequality. Rooting itself in the ideology of the French Revolution (Liberty, Equality, Fraternity), the French government is certainly in the position to ensure that each citizen is represented equally. Although the 1905 Law on the Separation of Churches and State bars it from diving too deeply into the religious realm, the government seems to be doing a fair job at bringing Muslims up to speed with prayer space representation. The government offers helpful aids in the mosque construction such as emphyteutic lease, government subsidization of the construction costs, and eligibility for tax exemptions. Only if Muslims could better organize themselves and secure more adequate domestic funding, there would be for mosques in France. The Republic's long, historical ties to Algeria is another element that dominates the tone of this chapter. What started out [in 1926] as a token of France's appreciation for Algeria's help in World War I, the Paris Mosque has become the epicenter for conflict among members of the French Muslim community. Since the 1950s, the Paris Mosque had attempted to assert itself twice over the construction plans for the Mosque in Marseille. In both instances, the plans for Mosque construction in Marseille were laid to rest. It seems that, because of its deep historical traces to Algeria, the Paris Mosque has had a strong sense of entitlement as the central authority of the practice of Islam in France. I argue that this history has played a significant role in the disunity of French Hanks P 59


Muslims. Resulting from this disunity, mosque construction in Marseille has struggled for 73 years. Hanks P 60


III Islamic Head Coverings in France Today, the French Republic encompasses approximately five million Muslims, the largest population of any Western European nation. Over the past twenty years this has proved to be a growing problem for the French government One of the most widely disputed issues has been the Headscarf Affair. It began in 1989 when three "rebellious" preteen girls were expelled from school for refusal to remove their head coverings. Although there were several attempts to compromise and correct the situation, the Chirac-dominated government banned the hijab along with any other "religiously conspicuous" and "ostentatious" symbols in French public schools in 2004. Nevertheless, the saga did not end there: this year, the French government passed legislation on a partial public ban of the burqa In spite of violent threats from Al-Qaeda to reconsider its decision, the French are continuing to move forward in their expulsion of conservative Islam within its borders. Has France been justified in its attempts to deter Islamic fundamentalism within its borders? The first section of this essay provides a brief historical background of Islam in France. It also discusses the issues that have confronted Muslim immigrants such as discrimination, Islamophobia and religion in French public schools. The next section discusses the various Islamic head coverings including their traditions and meanings through the lens of three parties: the Muslim community as a whole, the French-Muslim community, and the non-Muslim French community. The third section examines the 1989 Headscarf Affair in more detail along with the chain of chaotic events that followed. Hanks P 61


The fourth section attempts to provide an informed assessment of recent developments on this subject that includes my own conjectures. Section I: History of Islam in France From the beginning of the medieval era, Muslim communities have existed across Western Europe. During the Spanish Inquisition, however, many Muslims in Western Europe were forced to convert to Catholicism or face exile or extermination. Islamic communities were thus extremely rare in Europe from the sixteenth century up to the Second World War. During the postwar years, the demographics of Western Europe began to change rapidly after nearly four centuries of relative cultural homogeneity. Islamic communities began to grow exponentially in France. Many early communities were Algerian in origin, as Algeria was once a French territory. In the 1960s, many Algerians were fleeing their homeland as result of poor economic and social conditions that arose during the War for Independence. French industrialists benefited from the Algerian exodus: they exploited unskilled migrant labor to work in factories, performing grueling and arduous tasks in exchange for depressingly low wages. 137 Poor conditions throughout North Africa and the Maghreb led to a rise in immigration from Morocco, Tunisia, and Sudan. Often, Islamic immigrants in France did not receive an amiable welcome from many of France's socially Catholic, politically secular citizens. Since the rule of Charlemagne in the seventh century, the France has been predominately Catholic. Today, approximately 60 percent of citizens consider themselves subscribers to the Roman Catholic faith. In addition, the spirit of the French Hanks P 62 137 Bronwyn Winter, Hijab & The Republic: Uncovering the French Headscarf Debate (Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press, 2008), 100.


Revolution has instilled within French citizens opposition to the practice of religion in the public sphere. Centuries of the Church's domination of public, political, and economic affairs, the French officially repudiated the Church from interfering with the nonreligious roles of the State in 1905 Therefore, the sociopolitical atmosphere of France is very unique. At the macro level, including the government and French public society as a whole, religion is vigorously opposed. At the micro level, however, the local and more private sphere is predominately influenced by Catholic ideology. While a large portion of the French are not necessarily devout Catholics, they are still influenced by the traditional values that have shaped their social structure over time. At the more extreme end of the spectrum there is a large following that rejects immigration as a threat to their social structure of traditional values. Consequently, a rising Muslim population has prompted in the birth of hateful, anti-immigration political groups like the National Front (FN). In 1972, when unemployment was on the rise and France was on the verge of economic collapse, the FN has preached a strong, anti-Arab/Muslim sentiment: attributing high levels of unemployment, the rise of HIV/AIDS, and delinquency and crime in French neighborhoods to "Muslim" immigrants. 138 As a result of these issues, North Africans have faced a long, rocky path toward acceptance in contemporary French society. North African immigrants are the most impoverished demographic in France. In a 2006 study, the antiracist organization SOS Racism examined the employment records of two leading employment agencies in France and concluded that applicants with "non-European" names were one and a half Hanks P 63 138 Ibid., 113.


times as likely to remain unemployed. 139 Additionally, North African and Turkish immigrants have the highest unemployment rates than other immigrant groups. Is it possible that the FN's anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant rhetoric was supported by many French employers and this led to discrimination? While this is plausible, it would be appropriate to investigate the possibility that this demographic group lacks certain educational or skill requirements for relevant job markets before agreeing with such claims. Apart from the FN's encouraging discrimination and Islamophobia in the masses, many Muslims have faced difficulty assimilating in public schools. The spirit of the French Revolution has instilled within the public education system the responsibility of "developing socially and intellectually competent citizens who adhere to the design and philosophies of the state." 140 Furthermore, public school teachers are considered civil servants, who must promote the philosophies of the Republic [liberty, fraternity, and equality] free of religious or political bias. 141 It is this belief that any sign of religious expression in schools is a threat to the secular philosophies of the Republic. While the French promote equality in schools, they are simultaneously opposed to religious diversity. For example, the wearing of religious symbols in public schools like the yarmulke, the crucifix, and most notably the hijab have raised several questions of what role schools should play in terms of religious expression. Several believe such symbols Hanks P 64 139 Jonathan Laurence, Integrating Islam (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2006), 35. 140 Leslie Limage, "Education and the Muslim Identity: The Case of France," Comparative Education 36 (February 2000), 73. 141 Ibid., 75.


are not only a distraction, but also dividing factors that hinder the Republican ideals of fraternity and equality 142 Since the late 1980s, the hijab has ignited a particularly high amount of controversy between secularism and freedom of expression. The French have been riding a very thin line between promoting equality and fraternity in public schools and suppressing the right of religious expression. Article I of the Constitution of the Fifth Republic states: France is an indivisible, secular, democratic, and social Republic. She ensures the equality of all citizens before the law without regard for origin, race, or religion. She respects all beliefs. 143 Many supporters of the hijab feel that the government's prohibition of girls to wear headscarves in public schools undermines the Constitution's promise of religious freedom. At the same time, others would argue that because France is a secular Republic," banning the hijab in public schools is showing "respect for all beliefs." Obviously, Muslims and the French hold very different perspectives of the Muslim head coverings. The next section will provide a discussion of what Islamic head coverings mean to Muslims, French-Muslims, and contemporary French society. Section II: Differing Perspectives on Islamic Head Coverings The philosophy of women covering themselves predates Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Early evidence of head coverings finds their roots in ancient Mesopotamia. In several ancient religions of the Fertile Crescent, female head coverings were linked to Hanks P 65 142 Ibid., 74. 143 The 1958 French Constitution : Art. I, Preamble.


class status: the wealthiest women could afford to cover their entire bodies. 144 Women who did not cover themselves were presumably prostitutes or severely impoverished. Several thousand years later, however, the rise of Islam would promote female head coverings for religious purposes. Within the Islamic faith, there exist three types of religious coverings for women. The first type of covering is the hijab This is derived from the Arabic word hajaba which means "to hide from view." 145 The hijab is usually a simple scarf or piece of fabric wrapped around a woman's head to conceal her hair from plain view. A second, more problematic covering is referred to as the niqab The niqab is a veil that conceals the nose, mouth and other facial features. The only facial features that are not concealed by the niqab are the eyes. The third covering, however, conceals all the features of a woman. This is known as the burqa The burqa not only conceals physical features and curves of a woman, it also conceals a woman's entire face. A screen or thin cloth is the only window though which a woman can view the public world. In the Qur'an, religious coverings are mentioned only eight times. Most references provide guidelines by which believers must regard the spouses of the Prophet Muhammad; such guidelines ensure that neither the Prophet nor his wives are "importuned." 146 Other references in the Qur'an imply how Muhammad's spouses are to be respected after his death, as many of them were much younger than him. In any case, Hanks P 66 144 Caitlin Killian, "The Other Side of the Veil: North African Women in France Respond to the Headscarf Affair," Gender and Society 4 (Aug., 2003), 570. 145 Winter, Hijab & The Republic 22. 146 Ibid., 24.


neither the Qur'an nor the Hadith specify that such practices should be applied to the rest of Muslim women. At the same time, many Islamic societies throughout history have equated a woman's religiosity and her wearing of the hijab niqab or burqa The observed Islamic revivalism of the 1970s has noted a return to religious piety and an increase of traditional ideals to Muslim communities across the globe. 147 With this revivalism, many have noted a rise in more conservative interpretations of Islam. A Lebanese-affiliated Australian imam was noted saying the following about the Islamic head coverings: "without it [ hijab ] women are uncovered meat, men will become cats, and they cannot be blamed if they make an assault." 148 Although this is a more radical interpretation, coverings like the hijab niqab and burqa are meant to connote a woman's modesty. By covering herself in public, she is preventing men from thinking negative and impure thoughts about her. Without any covering in public, her actions may be viewed as ostentatious gaudy, or vulgar. Within the confines of the private realm, however, she is permitted to be free of such garments. On the other hand, interpretations of Islamic head coverings are much more complex for Muslims in France: some support such coverings, while others do not. One possibility might be generational differences. A 1998 poll conducted by the French publication, Le Monde found that older generations of the Muslim community were less supportive of the veil than younger generations. 149 It might be implied that the older Hanks P 67 147 Ibid., 3. Also referred to as Muslimism ; Represents a transnational and culturally hybridized phenomenon of religious revival.' 148 Ibid., 27. 149 Caitlin Killian, "The Other Side of the Veil," 572. In this publication, the author interchangeably uses "headscarf" and "veil." For the purposes of this paper, I assume she means to say headscarf.


generations [first-generation French Muslim immigrants] are more closely attached the religious oppression of the "old country" and thus have adopted more moderate views of the headscarf. Second, third, and fourth generations may be more detached from the potentially oppressive implications of the headscarf. A study conducted by Caitlin Killian supports this notion. This study revealed many different interpretations of the headscarf. She interviewed forty-five firstgeneration immigrant Muslim women in the Paris region, one-third were orthodox followers of Islam, another third of whom were moderate followers of Islam, and the remaining third did not practice but identified as Muslim. 150 Killian's results were surprising. Interviewees who were older, more religiously observant, and less educated tended to be less supportive of the hijab in public schools. Many held the sentiment that France is a secular Republic and Muslims should "adapt or go home." Younger, lessobservant interviewees [under forty years of age] tended to believe that the hijab should be respected. Young girls should not be expelled from school for wearing it, whether they wore it from parental coercion or personal choice. 151 Clearly, French Muslims hold a diverse array of opinions. Killian's study reveals that head coverings are disputable even in Islamic communities across France. While the niqab or veil is more controversial in Western society, as it covers nearly the entire face, the hijab which is only a simple hair covering. Unsurprisingly, nearly three-quarters of French citizens are opposed to the hijab in public schools. 152 As Hanks P 68 150 Ibid., 573. 151 Ibid., 575-582. 152 Ibid., 571.


stated earlier, the French (and some Muslims) are opposed religious symbols in schools because they undermine the output of the religiously neutral, unbiased republican citizen. However, history is also a factor in French opposition to the hijab. During the Algerian War for Independence, soldiers witnessed many young women in hijabs being raped and beaten to death in the streets of Algiers. 153 After the war, many connected head coverings like the hijab with violence, war, and female oppression. Furthermore, opposition to the hijab also attaches itself to Western feminism. One feminist group in France is credited with saying, "the hijab is stained with the blood of all Muslim women who have been oppressed and murdered for not covering themselves." 154 Therefore, the violent connotations applied the the hijab might explain why many Westerners, the French in particular, might oppose it. Western feminism would also find issue with Judeo-Christian practices. In the orthodox Jewish community and in a few Christian communities, women are required to cover their hair after marriage. 155 Although a wig does not create the same image as a hijab it still serves the same purpose of concealing part of a woman's identity. The Holy Bible makes explicit reference female head coverings: "...But I would have you know, that the head of every man in Christ; and the head of every woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. But every woman that prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head: for if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the Hanks P 69 153 Leslie Limage, "Education and the Muslim Identity: The Case of France," 90. 154 Judith Ezekiel, "French Dressing: Race, Gender, and the Hijab Story," Feminist Studies 2 (Summer, 2006), 269. 155 Winter, 26.


woman: but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man..." 156 From this passage, it is easy to get the impression that women must cover themselves because they are inferior beings. Women were created for the best interests of man. In Western society, it is safe to say that such beliefs are contested. Presumably in France, the same contestation may be expected of Muslim women. Section III: The Years Leading up to and Following 1989 Ideological differences between Muslims and non-Muslims in public schools became increasingly tense in the late 1980s. Throughout this period, several associations and community groups began to turn up the heat on public schools in their treatment of religious practices. In 1985, for example, a school in Nayon felt increasing pressure from the conservative Muslim community when several girls showed up to school wearing the hijab covered their ears during science class, refused to play sports, and refused to attend their music classes. 157 Rising tensions in public schools continued throughout the following four years and neared their climax at a public school in Creil, an outward district of Paris. The small town of Creil is marked as priority education zones (ZEPs). Many residents are recipients of government-subsidized housing, and high unemployment rates persist. A considerable portion of Creil's inhabitants are of North African decent. In June of 1989, a teenage girl of Tunisian immigrant parents was requested to unwrap her hijab and drop it to her shoulders during classes; after several days of absence, the girl returned to school Hanks P 70 156 1 Corinthians 11: 3-9 157 Winter, 132.


refusing to remove the hijab because "God had told her to keep it on, and she would rather die than remove it." 158 Such tensions in public schools were common throughout the 1980s. By the October that followed, however, the tensions reached their climax when the same girl, Samira Saidani, and two sisters, Le•la and Fatima Achaboun, were expelled from their middle school after refusing to remove their hijabs 159 160 The Achaboun sisters were first-generation French citizens with Moroccan parents. King Hassan II of Morocco gave the sisters official permission to go to school without the hijab 161 Thanks to their Moroccan origins, the sisters were permitted to go back to school weeks later. Samira's father was an established imam in their local community who had placed considerable pressure on the school years before. 162 Ultimately, the Tunisian government refused to intervene on the issue and Samira was never readmitted into school. 163 The French media was quick in its amplification of the issue, unapologetically linking Islamic head coverings to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in France. While many from both left and right political parties tried to distance themesleves from the issue, Minister of Interior Lionel Jospin boldly stated, "The school is a place for receiving Hanks P 71 158 Ibid., 130. 159 "Arab Girls' Veils at Issue in France," The New York Times, November, 12, 1989, under World,' (Accessed November 27, 2010. 160 Throughout the article, the author uses the word veil' instead of hijab.' This is probably a misunderstanding of different Islamic garments by the publishers. 161 Heather Meiers, "Difference and La•citŽ: France's Headscarf Debates and the Banning of Religious Symbols in French Public Schools," (University of Kansas, Unknown Date), 4. 162 Winter, 130. 163 Heather Meiers, "Difference and La•citŽ," 4.


children, not alienating them." 164 By November, the State Council ruled that the hijab was not an ostentatious symbol and could be worn so long as it did not disrupt the school's functioning. 165 Any extenuating circumstances would be handled on an ad hoc basis. The Council's decision did not bring tranquilly to several schools. By 1994, news of several more expulsions spread rapidly across the media. One of the most widely covered incidents was that of four girls in Nantua who refused to remove their headscarves during a physical education class. Although the girls were permitted to wear the headscarf during other classes, teachers at the school went on strike because they felt the headscarves were a safety hazard in classes such as gym and chemistry. The girls' families did not help to ease the issue when they spoke out in saying, "Islam requires the veiling of women." 166 Several other cases arose that year and many Islamic girls were expelled from school. In response to the expulsions, the government decided to reassert itself. Instead of dealing with issues on an ad hoc basis, the government changed positions with respect to the hijab Ernest ChŽnire, the former principal of Le•la, Fatima, and Samira's middle school, was now the elected Deputy of the National Assembly. In the fall of 1994, he ruled that secularism had been compromised and urged the Minister of Education to issue a directive banning ostensibly' religious symbols in public schools. 167 Similar to the Hanks P 72 164 Killian, 571. 165 Ibid. 166 John R. Bowen, Why the French Don't Like Headscarves: Islam, the State, and Public Space (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007), 87. 167 Heather Meiers, "Difference and La•citŽ," 6.


government's initial policy response, allowing schools to be the determinants of the religiously ostentatious did little to solve the issue. Schools were incapable of maintaining a consistent policy on headscarves. In January of 2003, a Lyon school superintendent did not follow through disciplinary action over a girl who refused to remove her headscarf for fear of "victimizing" her. Several teachers opposed to the superintendent's decision went on strike the following March. 168 Similarly, about one hundred kilometers northwest of Lyon in a village outside of Paris, two teenage Muslim converts were expelled (albeit with some apprehension from the Principal) for refusal to remove their headscarves in class. Students at the school were appalled at the sisters' expulsions and staged a strike in their support. 169 In essence, giving each school the power to determine the parameters of expulsion only continued to complicate the issue. Without an overarching authority on the issue teachers, students, principals and superintendents were split in half. In Lyon, teachers overruled their superintendent's decision in a strike. A similar situation took place outside of Paris, where the students went on strike against their school administrators' decisions. The strikes sent shockwaves throughout France's governing authorities. The Chirac administration saw the need to set forth a ban on the hijab in public schools. Although the Great Mosque of Paris (GMP) supported Chirac's stance on the ban, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy and other Muslim organizations like the Union of Hanks P 73 168 John R. Bowen, Why the French Don't Like Headscarves 95. 169 Harry Judge, "The Muslim Headscarf and French Schools," American Journal of Education 1 (Nov., 2004), 12.


Islamic Organizations of France (UOIF) and the National Federation of French Muslims (FNMF) were against the ban because it specifically targeted Muslims. 170 So as not to have in place a ban that specifically targeted one group, the Parliament proposed a ban in 2004 on all ostentatious religious symbols in public schools. Although this ban would be no different from the 1994 ministerial decree, the government felt the need to reassert its stance on the issue. The hijab was not the only symbol to be banned. Jewish skullcaps, Sikh turbans, and large crucifixes were also included. 171 Unsurprisingly, the school year following the ban was not smooth. Between the fall of 2004 and summer of 2005, nearly fifty Muslim girls were expelled from schools. 172 Section IV: Recent Developments Along with the 2004 ban on religious symbols in public schools, French authorities have been on track to ban two additional significant Muslim symbols: the niqab and the burqa Considering the several obstacles to drafting a law in France, the veil ban seemed to pass through the apparatus fairly quickly. In the legislative process, the draft of a law must surpass three major hurdles before it may be implemented. These hurdles include the State Council, both houses of Parliament (National Assembly and Senate), and the Constitutional Court. 173 Before the legislation process begins, the law must surpass its first hurdle, the State Council. The draft must receive State Council Hanks P 74 170 Meiers, 10. 171 "French Assembly Votes to Ban Religious Symbols in Schools," the New York Times, February 11, 2004, under World,' (Accessed December 2, 2010). 172 Judith Ezekiel, "French Dressing," 261. 173 "The Legislative Procedure and Steps," AssemblŽe Nationale Website, under Legislative Role,' http:// (Accessed December 10, 2010).


approval before its submission to Parliament. 174 After that hurdle is cleared, the law is then sent to Parliament. Because France has a bicameral legislature, the law must be approved by both houses. 175 The first house is the National Assembly, which functions similar to the United States House of Representatives. The second house is the Senate. Once the bill reaches Parliament, members debate the issue. In more complex cases, they may establish specific commissions' to explore the issue more deeply. 176 Once the Parliament is cleared, the law is ratified. However, before it is officially drafted as French law, it must first go through one final obstacle, the Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court inspects the legislation, making sure it adheres to the principles of both French and EU law. 177 If the proposed legislation is found to be in conflict with French or EU law, it may be rejected or modified. The veil ban successfully surpassed the Parliament and the Constitutional Court in the latter half of 2010. In July, the ban cleared the National Assembly with an overwhelming majority. 178 Two months later, it passed with similar ease through the second house of Parliament. The Senate voted an astounding 246 to 1 in favor of the ban. 179 Continuing its process through the legislative apparatus, the ban met only slight resistance in the Constitutional Court. After a simple modification, however, the ban was Hanks P 75 174 "The Legislative Procedure and Steps," AssemblŽe Nationale Website. 175 Ibid. 176 Ibid. 177 Ibid. 178 "French MPs Vote to Ban Full Veil in Public," BBC News, July 13, 2010, under Europe,' http:// (Accessed December 31, 2010). 179 "French Senate Votes to Ban Full Veil in Public," BBC News, September 14, 2010, under Europe,' (Accessed December 31, 2010).


approved. Noticing the implications for its hindering of religious freedom, the Court modified the ban so it would not apply to public places of worship. 180 Although the ban has successfully cleared the French legislative process, wearers of the veil will not be sought out for and fined for another six months. The legislation outlined a six-month "education" period to warn perpetrators that such garments are no longer permitted in public. Those continuing to wear the veil after the education period would be fined up to 150 euros and forced to take a class on French citizenship; those forcing women into wearing such garments would be even worse off, recieving a 30.000 euro fine and up to one year in a penitentiary. 181 The hijab would still be permitted in the public sphere except for public schools. Apart from the burqa and niqab 's symbolizing archaic female oppression, those supporting the ban also present more practical objections. For example, the highly concealing nature of the garments could be a hindrance to identification and therefore a threat to public security. While there are compelling arguments for the ban, hateful images and rhetoric from the FN make it difficult to bypass its potentially discriminatory implications to the Islamic population. An abrasive campaign poster from March 2010 captures this sentiment. The image depicts the country of France, dressed in the colors and symbols of Algeria. Across the country are sharp, towering minarets. Under a caption that reads "No to Islam," a woman dressed in a full veil gazes at the viewer with piercing eyes. 182 Hanks P 76 180 "French Veil Ban Clears Last Legal Hurdle," BBC News, October 7, 2010, under Europe,' http:// (Accessed November 13, 2010). 181 "French Veil Ban Clears Last Legal Hurdle," BBC News. 182 To view the image, please consult:


This rhetoric has not gone unnoticed by the Islamic world, al-Qaeda in particular. In late October of 2010, five French citizens were abducted by al-Qaeda militants in a Nigerian uranium mine. Shortly after, Osama Bin Laden expressed his anger towards the discriminatory ban and urged the French to discontinue their "injustices towards women." 183 Obviously, the French have elected not to back down from their stance on the ban. Is the government unjustified in its convictions? Are they really going out of their way to target a specific ethnic group in the name of secularism ? Not entirely. While France may be one of the first Western nations implement such bans, countries like Tunisia have preceded it. For example Tunisia, with an Islamic demographic of 98 percent, forbids the wearing of the hijab in government offices. There have also been some cases of women being forced to remove their hijabs in the streets and at certain public gatherings. 184 Coupled with Tunisia, Morocco has also taken crucial steps towards a ban on religious head coverings. Its government has been pushing for a ban on headscarves for fear of their religious implications. In 2006, the Education Ministry official Aboulkacem Samir said, "The headscarf for women is a political symbol, in the same way as the beard is for men. But we in the ministry must be very careful that the books are fair to all Moroccans and do not represent just one political faction." 185 Apparently, France is not alone or unfounded in its convictions. Two highly Islamic nations have also taken note of the Hanks P 77 183 "Bin Laden is Warning France After Kidnap in Niger," BBC News, October 27, 2010, under Europe,' (Accessed November 25, 2010). 184 U.S. Department of State, "International Religious Freedom Report 2003: Tunisia," http:// (Accessed December 1, 2010). 185 "Morocco Moves to Drop the Headscarf," BBC News, October 6, 2006, under Africa,' http:// (Accessed November 29, 2010).


problematic nature of the hijab and other religious garments. What is more, the three girls who sparked the issue in 1989 trace their roots to Morocco and Tunisia. If Muslim countries are banning headscarves, why should not a secular country? Nevertheless, opponents to the niqab and burqa ban have cried out against its discriminatory connotations. Many feel that the government of Nicolas Sarkozy is breaching French and European human rights ideals and hiding behind the guise of secular values.' The only influential entity that might be able to force the French to reconsider is the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The ECHR was founded in 1998 to provide Europeans with a legal recourse for those feeling their human rights have been violated by a contracting member. Should opponents find the ban to be in violation of European Human Rights, they may file a case against the French government in the ECHR. Before a case is to be brought before the court, it must go under a consideration process where the admissibility of the case is determined. To have one's case admitted into the ECHR, there must be evidence in which "domestic remedies" have been exhausted. In addition, the applicant's allegations must involve the offending party's violation of one or more of the rights included in the Convention. Finally, the applicant must be "personally" and "directly" a victim of the violation and must show evidence that he or she has suffered a "significant disadvantage." 186 In essence, burqa or niqab -wearing Muslims would be able to have their case heard in the ECHR if they first went through the highest level of the French judiciary branch. In the case of France, the appeal must go through the Council of State before Hanks P 78 186 "The ECHR in 50 Questions," European Court of Human Rights, under FAQ,' pg. 8, http:// (Accessed December 11, 2010).


consideration into the ECHR. The Council of State hears the cases against the decisions of the national government. 187 Obviously, this would be the veil ban that glided through the legislative process in 2010. Additionally, victims must prove their personal disadvantages resulting from the ban. Such disadvantages might include lost job opportunities, a decreased level of safety, societal scorn, poverty, and any other potentially debilitating consequence. Along with proving personal disadvantages, the plaintiffs would need to cite which article(s) of the European Convention of Human Rights are being violated. In this case, it would most likely be Freedom of Religion (Art. 9). 188 Many legal experts, however, believe that the ECHR would not be receptive to a hearing. For example, Article 9 of the Convention clearly states, "...beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order..." 189 Many supporters of the ban argue the public identification and security issues linked to such garments: the niqab covers all parts of the face except the eyes while the burqa covers the entire face. Allowing citizens to shield their faces, the primary source of identification, would open France to several potential public security threats. Hanks P 79 187 "Quelles sont les conditions pour saisir le Conseil d'ƒtat?" Le Conseil d'ƒtat, sous DŽmarches & ProcŽdures,' (Accessed December 31, 2010). 188 "Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms," Registry of European Court of Human Rights, pg. 6 (Accessed December 11, 2010). 189 Ibid.


Furthermore, the ECHR has denied previous challenges to the 2004 ban on the hijab in schools. 190 Muslims have not been the only ones facing difficulties practicing their faith in secular France. Jews, too, have had to modify their practices to be part of the secular school system. Unlike the American students who have Saturdays and Sundays off from school, French students have Sundays and Wednesdays off. Saturday, however, is the Jewish Sabbath ( Shabbat ) yet students are still expected to attend class on Saturday. Furthermore, much like Muslim girls and the hijab Jewish boys are not permitted to wear the yarmulke to school. Despite many similarities between the two issues, Jews did not protest. 191 For this reason, it might be apparent to the ECHR that Muslims are not enduring any serious disadvantages from the ban if other religious minorities are adapting well in spite of similar plights. Nevertheless, it seems that the hijab niqab and burqa are slowly going out of style. Not only are they disappearing from France's public sphere, but they are also on the decline in some Islamic countries. Apart from prayer facilities, the burqa and niqab will be prohibited in public. As for the hijab however, many Muslims are avoiding the scrutiny of France's secular atmosphere. Indeed, there has been a rise of Muslims in Catholic schools. Since Catholic schools are private, they have no adherence to the ideology of the Republic. Thanks to the DebrŽ Law in the 1960s, private schools could receive some government funding such as the subsidizing of teachers's salaries. 192 The Hanks P 80 190 "French Court Approves Veil Ban," al Jazeera, October 8, 2010, under Europe,' http:// (Accessed November 30, 2010). 191 "It's Shabbat in France-and time for school," Jweekly, January 9, 2004, under International,' http:// (Accessed December 11, 2010). 192 Limage, 80.


stipulation was that such schools were not exclusive; if anyone was willing to afford the costs of attendance, they should not be excluded. Many such schools offer young girls the right to wear the hijab One Catholic school in Marseilles has a Muslim student population close to 80 percent! 193 In Sartrouville, a town right outside of Paris, Jean-Paul II High School has also witnessed rising numbers of Muslim students. 194 Scholars like Jonathan Laurence attribute the rise of Muslims in Catholic schools to the hijab affair. 195 If students cannot wear the hijab in public schools, parents have the liberty to place them in a private school that does permit such garments. Still, it is intriguing that Muslim students are attending Catholic schools. As there are only 200 hundred students [total] enrolled in Islamic schools, it is obvious that France is lacking in this area. 196 Because private schools must be opened for at least three years before they may be eligible for government subsidies, it has been difficult for many academies to garner enough funding to endure. 197 Until more Muslim schools are opened, students will have to attend Catholic schools if they will continue to wear the hijab Conclusions This chapter makes clear that the French are walking a very thin line between the concept of secularism and religious freedom. Article I of the French Constitution says Hanks P 81 193 "French Muslims Find Freedom in Catholic Schools," Newser, September 30, 2008, under Home,' (Accessed November 27, 2010). 194 "Hybrid Schooling," The New York Times, October 26, 2010, under Opinion,' http:// %20France&st=cse (Accessed November 27, 2010). 195 Laurence, 82. 196 Ibid. 197 Ibid.


that France "ensures the equality of all citizens before the law without regard for origin, race, or religion and respects all beliefs." Looking through the lens of the State, banning garments like the niqab and burqa from the public sphere ensures ŽgalitŽ the French word for equality. Western feminism views such garments with differing opinions, feeling that they are symbols of an archaic cultural custom that emphasizes the differences of men and women. It should not be shocking then, that France, the nation whose language gave birth to the word egalitarian would oppose such garments in the public sphere. Furthermore, the banning of the hijab from public schools is not too distant from this notion. Years of Catholic influence and domination over French schools has created a rejection for religion in public classrooms. Schools are responsible for developing socially and intellectually competent citizens who adhere to the design and philosophies of the state. In the French Republic, school teachers are considered civil servants. Teachers must promote the philosophies of the Republic without any religious or political bias. Wearing the hijab in school detracts from this goal. Muslim girls must cover their hair in public because they are girls. Boys do not have to because they are boys. The fact that a religion dictates this only further fuels France's egalitarian flames. On the other hand, opponents of such notions argue that France is not staying true to its promise in Article I of the Constitution. They argue that ŽgalitŽ is only ŽgalitŽ when there is consistency; and the State is not being consistent in its treatment of other faiths. In the case of Jewish students wearing yarmulkes and Sikhs wearing turbans, France has been fair in eliminating all visibly ostentatious religious symbols from public Hanks P 82


schools. However, would this be the same if Catholicism had condoned the wearing of an ostentatious garment to signify one's religious piety? A crucifix, for example, is easily concealable. In addition, Catholicism still influences certain facets of the public school system. Sundays and Wednesdays 198 are holy days for Catholic observers. Additionally, Sundays and Wednesdays are also the days French students have off from school each week. Jewish holy days are on Saturdays and Muslim holy days are on Fridays; students are expected to show up to class on Saturdays and Fridays, regardless of their religious practices. For this reason, it would seem that there is still some inconsistency with the treatment of religious matters in public schools. Nevertheless, France is a sovereign country with its own unique history and social customs. Do Muslims have a right to migrate, sometimes illegally, to a foreign country and expect to change hundreds of years of a tightly woven social fabric? As long as the State is not in violation of the European Convention on Human rights, is France justified in its attempts to ban religious head garments? If France is not in violation of its accord with the ECHR, it may very well be justified. For example, the legislative process of veil ban reveals that France is well equipped with the proper mechanisms to ensure that the government's position is not in violation of any laws. The Constitutional Court was able to modify the proposed ban to enable women to wear the veil in pubic places of worship. Hanks P 83 198 In traditional Catholicism, Wednesday mass is as important as Sunday and Saturday night mass.


IV Concluding Remarks Three important themes have risen from the pages of this project. The first theme is the lasting "Spirit" of the French Revolution. Rising above the shackles of Catholicism and the Divine Right, France's founding fathers idealized equality and secularism. 199 They believed in a utopian society where all citizens would not only be respected equally, but they would also have the liberty to subscribe to a religious following without the baggage of state interference. Through its dealing with the issues of Muslim associations, mosque construction, and the Headscarf Affair, has the Republic attempted to be faithful to this revolutionary spirit? This answer has not been made entirely clear. Through one lens, it would seem obvious that the French have been wholly faithful to such ideology. When France was declared a secular state in 1905, the 1901 law on associations became necessary to the facilitation of religious activities. Because the state divorced itself from the religious realm, associations took over as the dominating influence on religious activities. The 1901 law, however, did not permit immigrants to form their own religious associations. This problem made itself known in the 1960s and 1970s, when hundreds of thousands of Muslims migrated from North Africa. Recognizing this inequality, the socialist-elected government modified the association law in 1981 to allow for the formation of immigrant associations. Twenty-five years later, important councils like the CFCM formed, which has helped Muslim citizens fulfill religious needs like halal Hanks P 84 199 Equality and Secularism.


food distribution, preparations for important holidays, and most importantly, mosque construction. Allowing immigrants to form associations reveals this adherence to equality. Additionally, the formation of religious associations has proved a crucial element in solving another inequity confronted by France's Muslims. Outlined in the mosque portion of this project, the organization of the Islamic community is one necessary element in mosque construction. In the case of Marseille, one factor that hindered the construction of a Mosque in France's de facto Muslim capital was disunity among crucial actors of the project. Thanks to the modification of the 1901 law, the formation of such associations has eased the construction of mosques and other prayer facilities in French cities. Allowing Muslim immigrants the same rights to form associations and construct facilities crucial to the practice of their faith is surely a defense of equality. Just as Catholics, Protestants, and Jews are entitled to a place to practice their faith, Muslims should be treated no differently. It would seem that government officials like Sarkozy have been supportive of Muslims to have this entitlement. Furthermore, the government's handling of the headscarf affair has also revealed its defense of equality and secularism. The 2004 ban of the hijab in public schools connotes this sentiment. The French envision a society where each individual is treated fairly. Banning the hijab in public schools deters the gender disparities inherent to traditional Islam. Schoolteachers do not tolerate the hijab because it hinders equal treatment of their students in a place where they should be free of religious requirements. Secular thought prohibits religious conditions in a place governed by the State. French Hanks P 85


schools are places of learning, where children are taught to be responsible citizens of the Republic. Students do not attend school to practice their faith, a faith potentially induced through the force of their parents. Banning the hijab is the government's attempt to enforce secularism in public schools. Religious symbols such as the yarmulke and Sikh turban were also included in this ban, not as a faade to cover a measure that targets Muslims, but as adherence to two ideals of the French Revolution: equality and secularism. Although it is convincing that the French are defending egalitarian and secular ideology, it may also be argued that such defense might be interpreted as a xenophobic faade. In other words, restrictions on France's Islamic community in the name of "equality" and "secularism" might imply slight cultural and religious discrimination. French mosques, for example, have been highly susceptible to local politicization and public scrutiny. In minor cases such as those of the Grand Mosques of Lyon, prayer space functions and designs were subject to the will of the surrounding community. Muslim associations in Lyon dealt with a 10-year legal battle over minaret height, as several citizens feared that its architecture would impede on the city skyline. Although Lyon's Muslims still got their mosque, they had to compromise with those unwilling to allow for the mosque to be on a grander scale than the city's Catholic churches. A more extreme example is the attempted mosque construction in Charvieu in the late 1980s. Charvieu's mayor openly opposed mosque construction and even "accidentally" demolished a modified Islamic prayer space that was formerly a rundown factory cafeteria! Hanks P 86


While government officials like Sarkozy are not afraid to express the need for fair mosque representation in France, it may be hard for some not to be skeptical of the government's motives. If the French should fear the practice of Islam in "garages and basements," it seems useful, then, to encourage prayer space construction to facilitate government surveillance of Islam. Instead of a defense of equality, some may interpret mosque construction as a response motivated by fear of Islamic extremism; to appease the masses so they will not rise up. Alternatively stated, the government may be more set self preservation and control than giving the Islamic community equal representation. If government officials, both local and national, really cared about defending equality, then why are there building restrictions on seemingly trivial issues like mosque design? Similarly, another perspective of the headscarf in public schools questions the equity of the education system. Some would defend the 2004 headscarf ban as not an open discrimination against the Islamic community, as it included the yarmulke and the Sikh turban. However, is it wholly evident that the ban was not discriminatory to nonCatholic students? Conveniently, the Catholic faith does not require the wearing of any ostentatious religious garment. Furthermore, public school students are not required to attend school on Sundays and Wednesdays, the two days where Catholics are expected to attend mass. What about Islamic and Jewish holy days? 200 Again, like the mosque issue, there does exist a potential inequity on the headscarf issue. Whether the French's defense of Revolutionary ideals is heartfelt or a faade for which to shield ulterior motives, this theme clearly makes itself known throughout the pages of this project. Hanks P 87 200 Fridays in Islam and Saturdays in Judaism.


A second theme of this project is France's history with Algeria. As mentioned in the introduction, understanding this history adds an interesting dynamic to the context of the issues of Islam in France. The first French mosque ever constructed was in Paris in 1926. The Great Mosque of Paris was a gift to the Algerians who fought for France during the First World War. It was a tribute to the Muslims who perished in the name of the Republic. Today, the mosque symbolizes a time when France and Algeria were united under one flag. When immigrant associations began to form in the 1980s, the government was quick to favor the GMP, the central symbol of good relations with its former territory. Because France occupied Algeria for over 100 years, a form of Islam tied to Algeria was certainly a familiar and therefore more suitable Islam to the Republic. In many instances, however, this history has brought trouble to France's Muslim community. During the 1990s, Charles Pasqua, Minister of the Interior, expressed the sentiment that all Muslim associations should align themselves with the GMP, which, in turn, would act as an "Islamic Vatican." 201 This bias certainly produced setbacks in the division of the Muslim community. In 1994, suspicions over the GMP's dominance of the National Coordination of French Muslims (CNMF) hindered an early attempt at an Islamic council. Almost ten years later, a similar scenario took place. In 2003, Sarkozy appointed Dalil Boubakheur, rector of the GMP, as leader of the French Council of the Islamic Faith (CFCM). Although Boubakheur's appointment was only in effect until the Hanks P 88 201 Katherine Pratt Ewing, "Legislating Religious Freedom: Muslim Challenges to the Relationship between Church' and State' in Germany and France," Daedalus 129 (Fall, 2000), 36.


2005 elections, it seems apparent that the government has been asserting the GMP's leading role on the French Muslim population. On the headscarf affair, the GMP was the only leading organization to support the 2004 hijab ban from the start. Other organizations like the Union of Islamic Organizations in France (UOIF) and the National Federation of French Muslims (FNMF) opposed the ban for its discriminatory implications. Repeatedly, the GMP has mirrored the government on issues like the hijab in public schools. Because the GMP symbolizes a time when France and Algeria were united, it is clear this relationship has continued to be relevant to contemporary issues on Islam. France's history with Algeria has also stagnated the progression of Islamic agenda in the public sphere. The GMP's entitlement as the government's favorite federation has warranted the creation of factions within the CFCM. The CFCM, an organization designed to serve as an aid to the Muslim community, was the site of serious political conflict during its first few years in existence. Instead of focusing on the needs of the Muslim community, many felt that the CFCM was simply a battleground for political power. Dalil Boubakheur, rector of the GMP, foreseeing that he would be outvoted in the 2005 election, tried to use his favorable status to appeal to the government to modify the election procedures; modifications that would clearly ensure his post as CFCM president. The months leading up to the 2005 election witnessed bitter rivalry and slander between the GMP and the other federations. Throughout this project, Franco-Algerian history has definitely played a significant role in forming the dynamics of Islam in France. More specifically, it can be Hanks P 89


attributed to the factionalizing of the Islamic community. Such factionalizing has compromised the stability and effectiveness of Islamic councils, hindered mosque construction (Marseille in particular), etc. As a result, progression of Islamic agenda delayed from the start. Although it seems that the power struggles within the CFCM have been put to rest in recent years, knowledge of this rich history is imperative to understanding and analyzing the events that have shaped France's current Muslim community. Finally, the third theme is a shift from Islam in France' to an Islam of France.' Observing the issues of Muslim associations, mosque construction, and the headscarf affair, one can clearly see a distinct form of Islam emerging in France. Mobilizing Muslims through the corporatist model has led to the creation of the French Council of the Islamic Faith (CFCM). The French government has encouraged the establishment of a semi-democratic sub-government to organize and delegate various tasks within the Islamic community. Like a traditional government body, representatives of the CFCM are elected and linked to various federations like the GMP, UOIF, and FNMF that act as quasi political parties.' Each party' distinguishes itself along ideological or national lines. What is more, the CFCM governs aspects of the Islamic faith such as appointing prison and hospital chaplains, appointing imams to local mosques, setting the standards for halal certification, mobilizing attendees for the hajj, etc. Unlike many Islamic societies, where the government controls all religious and political aspects, the French have created a unique body to govern the Islamic faith in a highly secular nation. Hanks P 90


Additionally, the dynamics of mosques are evolving across the French landscape. In the case of Marseille mosque, there will be no muezzin included to signify the call to prayer. Instead, bright beam of light will usher faithful Muslims to come pray five times each day. However, this light will not be green, the color of Islam, because Marseille is a port city. A purple light will signify the call to prayer when the Marseille mosque is completed. Because many French do not want to hear the call to prayer blaring through the streets five times each day, the Marseille mosque is equipped with a quiet, innovative signal. The death of the muezzin seems to be consistent in French cities. The call to prayer at the Great Mosque of Lyon, for example, was modified so that it may only be heard from within the mosque. This compromising of French mosque functions reveals an innovative modification indicative of an Islam of France. As for the hijab niqab and burqa it appears that such garments are finding their way out of the French public sphere. Islamic head coverings were intended solely for women to cover themselves in public; in private spaces, they are permitted to remove such coverings. They were intended to protect the dignity and privacy of a woman's physical features. Ironically, the French have made the niqab and burqa illegal in public. Only in the privacy of one's home or religious facility, may these garments be worn. In schools, young girls must remove their hijabs before attending school. While traditional Islam condones the headscarf in public, French Islam condones headscarf in private. Hanks P 91


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