French Islam Reform Report Claims Radical Salafism Dominates Islamic Intellectual Circles

Muslims pray in the street for Friday prayer in the Paris suburb of Clichy la Garenne, Friday, Nov. 10, 2017. Tensions have erupted as residents and the mayor of a Paris suburb tried to block the town's Muslims from praying in the street in a dispute that reflects nationwide problems …
AP/Thibault Camus

A new report advising French President Emmanuel Macron on his proposal to reform Islam in France has claimed that radical Salafism has gained a monopoly on French Islamic intellectual thought.

The new report, authored by French-Tunisian Islam expert Hakim el Karoui of the Montaigne Institute, claims that radical Islamist ideas permeate France’s Islamic intellectual circles, saying that bookshops have become dominated by radical versions of the religion, French radio broadcaster RTL reports.

Even more troubling, the report claims that those who answer questions posted online about Islam in France are often linked to radical Salafist preachers, as well.

El Karaoui also looked into the influence of foreign actors in the French Islamic scene and found that two countries, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, had used their funding of imams and mosques to disseminate more radical intellectual strains of Islam and the political ideology of Islamism to great effect among France’s Muslims.

In addition, the report mentions the progression of Islam in France, noting the successes of bloggers wearing the hijab as well as “halal” versions of ridesharing apps like Blablacar saying, “if you are a boy, the car will be driven by a man, if you are a woman, she will be driven by a woman,” and even a halal version of Airbnb.

In order to stop the fracturing of French society, El Karaoui concluded that France must set up a neutral national Muslim organisation that could take over training of imams and dispense with the need for overseas funding for mosques and other projects from countries like Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

President Macron announced he would be looking at reforming Islam in France earlier this year but expressed a need for change as early as last November when he said: “Radicalisation has taken hold because the French Republic has resigned.”

Radicalisation, particularly of Muslims living in the suburbs around major cities like Paris, has been blamed for a wave of terror attacks including the Charlie Hebdo and Bataclan massacres in 2015, as well as multiple attacks on police officers and soldiers throughout 2017 and 2018.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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