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Macron Proposes Restructuring Islam in France

PARIS – Revisiting a controversial topic, the French President Emmanuel Macron announced plans on Sunday to restructure the organization of Islam in France.

“We are working on the structuring of Islam in France and also on how to explain it, which is extremely important,” Macron told the Journal du Dimanche in an interview Sunday.

Macron said he wanted to lay the groundwork for Islam in France in the first half of 2018.

This move, according to Macron, will help Muslims better integrate into the Republic and fight against fundamentalism.

“My goal is to rediscover what lies at the heart of laïcité [the French concept of secularism], the possibility of being able to believe as not to believe, in order to preserve national cohesion and the possibility of having free consciousness,” the French leader said, declining to reveal further details about the reform plan.

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“I will not reveal the proposal until the work is completed,” he said.

“Islam of France”

The organization of an “Islam of France” is a hot topic that has haunted the public authorities since the 1990s.

Founded 22 years ago, the Union of Islamic Organizations of France (L’Union des Organisations Islamiques de France) (UOIF) is the French chapter of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE).

Owning 30 mosques and operating 200 others, UIOF promotes integration in the French community through catering to the religious, cultural, educational, social, and humanitarian needs of the Muslims of France.

In 2013, France’s then-President, Nicolas Sarkozy, launched the French Council of the Muslim Faith (Conseil français du culte musulman, CFCM).

The CFCM serves as an official interlocutor with the French state in the regulation of Muslim religious activities.

Yet, the representation of French Muslims remained unclaimed.

In a poll conducted by Ifop in September 2016, only 68% of Muslims in France knew the CFCM. In addition, only 16% felt represented by Dalil Boubakeur, rector of the Great Mosque of Paris and former president of the CFCM.