Sherin Khankan, imam and founder of the Mariam Mosque in Copenhagen, was invited to visit the French president on Monday morning to speak about subjects including Islamic feminism, reports Danish broadcaster DR.
Macron is interested in hearing the Danish imam’s thoughts on balancing religion and politics, according to DR’s report.
France has a secular political tradition, with state and church divided in a concept known in French as laïcité.
Macron hopes that input from leaders of diverse branches of different faiths will give ideas that can help France tackle societal problems connected to religious and cultural differences, the broadcaster writes.
“These meetings inspire the president’s contemplation of subjects related to the role of religion in society,” the Élysée Palace told DR.
The palace stressed that the meeting was planned well in advance of Friday’s Isis-inspired terror attack near Carcassonne in southern France, in which four people were killed.
Khankan is known in Denmark both for her role in founding the women’s mosque and as a leader of Exitcirklen, a support organisation for women who are victims of domestic violence and social and religious control.
She told DR that Macron was making “an important political statement” by initiating dialogue with leaders of religious communities.
“France is a country known for its unfailing and unconditional separation of religion and politics. I am trying to show through my activism that religion can make a progressive contribution to society. And there are great challenges in France,” Khankan told DR.
“Radicalisation can be a reaction to a sense of not belonging or being part of the community, so it is important that world leaders of the future find ways to include their minorities,” she added.
“Religion cannot be made to disappear. So it is interesting that a political leader like Emmanuel Macron is interested in listening, and by meeting with different religious leaders is sending an important signal that secular society can coexist with religion,” Khankan said.
The French female rabbi Delphine Horvilleur was also scheduled to participate at the Élysée Palace meeting.