Thursday, July 25, 2024

Islamization of France and Macron’s ‘Forum of Islam’

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France is experiencing a significant demographic change in recent decades, especially with respect to religion. This shift is characterized by the increasing number of migrant Muslims in the country. The changing socio-religious nature of the demography is the direct result of the migration laws in place in France. As a secular country France is seeing an alarmingly high rise in Muslims while the aftershocks of recent Islamic extremist attacks are still reverberating within the nation.  

Islam Became A 'Problem' In France When Muslims Became French - Worldcrunch
PC Worldcrunch

Recently, the Macron Government forged ahead with efforts to reshape Islam in France by launching the ‘Forum of Islam’. Although France does not have a national religion, religion has now gained the foreground in the French political arena. Since Islam is a religion that is traditionally related to extremism, rigidity, and exclusivity; Macron’s ‘Forum of Islam’ is an attempt to rid Islam of its extremist identity and make it more holistic for common consumption. The ‘Forum of Islam’ aims to lead the largest Muslim community in West Europe by forming a body that governs Islam. It will be made up of clergy and laymen; surprisingly this religious governing body will include women as well.

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Causes for the Rise of Islam in France 

The Sahaba mosque in Créteil, a Paris suburb, popular with those converting to Islam, which is a small but growing number.
PC The New York Times

The Islamic conversion rates in France have almost doubled in the last 25 years. Moreover, France has witnessed a steady influx of Muslim migrants from Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and sub-Saharan Africa over the last few decades. The statistical data indicates that the Muslim population in France has increased significantly to approximately 6 million, comprising 8-9% of the total French population. The Muslim population of France is increasing at a predicted rate of 17% annually.

Experts state that more than 100,000 French nationals embrace Islam ANNUALLY; most of which are under the age of 40. Additionally, experts predict that by 2050 the number of Muslims in France will be more than that of Germany or the UK.

The rise of Islam in France has led to deep political ramifications for the nation. Traditional French nationals have begun to contemplate its impact on French values and culture. The open borders policy of Europe, aimed at promoting freedom of movement within the European Union, has led to a high influx of migrant Muslims in France. These in-flows also encourage higher conversion rates in the country. Islamic conversion rates and the migration of Muslims has become a contentious issue within the nation. Thus, the presence of Muslims in France now shapes the electoral campaigns, policy decisions, and public discourse in the nation.

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Macron’s ‘Forum of Islam’

Réunion du Forum de l'Islam de France. Emmanuel Macron : 'Assurer à chacun des musulmans l'accès à un Islam en France, à un Islam des Lumières' - DestiMed
PC DestiMed

The French Interior Ministry, under President Macron, has introduced the ‘Forum of Islam’ to keep the country and its Muslim community free from the influence of foreign bodies. It aims to ensure that Muslim practices in France will be in sync with the nation’s secularism in public life.

This Forum will be made up of influential Imams, intellectuals, leaders, and businessmen/women hand-picked by the French government. A quarter of this forum will be made up of women. However, some Muslims smell the strong stench of Islamophobia in the integration of this forum. They feel that the ‘Forum of Islam’ underlines the anxiety of loss of culture in France. Moreover, they think this forum may also be grounded in anti-immigrant sentiments. 

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Future of France

Statistics show that France is on its way to be a Muslim-majority nation. Only 5% of the 25% French Christian population practices Christianity. Whereas nearly 90% of French Muslims practice Islam. Thus, it is safe to assume French Muslims will have a larger say in the socio-political culture wars in Europe. Thus, Macron’s ‘Forum of Islam’ is an experimental organization that may succeed in ensuring that radical influence on French Muslims is reduced. However, the history of Islam indicates otherwise. 

The followers of Islam often respond to the call of their religion once they gain in numbers. The Quran is known to encourage passivity in Muslims until they reach significant numbers. Thus, the world can only speculate on the outcome of the increasing Islamization of France as well as Macron’s Forum of Islam. India can safely assume that France’s culture war will soon resemble India’s struggle with Islam. The Western nations must observe Islam in the petri dish of the Indian Sub-continent to realize that religious tolerance breeds contempt in the minds of radical Islamic followers. And the ‘peaceful Islamist’ is a creature of myth.

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