Halal tax and Arabic in French schools: New plan to stop Islamic fundamentalism in France

A new report by a Paris think-tank underlines "the progress of Islamist ideology among Muslims in France", suggesting that Salafi Islam can be stamped out through a “halal tax” and Arabic being taught in French schools.

Halal tax and Arabic in French schools: New plan to stop Islamic fundamentalism in France
Photos: AFP

According to the report released on Sunday by France’s Montaigne Institute, Salafism – a radical branch of Islam that calls for worldwide sharia law – has a monopoly on Islamic religious thought in l’Héxagone. 

Author Hakim El Karaoui, a consultant for the Paris think-thank who’s written on Arab and Muslim policy before, points to Turkey and Saudi Arabia as the main sources of funding for the dissemination of this radical school of thinking among France and Europe’s Muslim population.

The Montaigne Institute study highlights that this opaque financing pays for the promotion of Arabic learning among France’s Muslims at institutions that have a marked fundamentalist political-religious stance rather than just a linguistic one, the report suggests.

Through these obscure Islamic schools Salafi indoctrination “is gaining ground in France”, especially among “young people under 35”, El Karaoui suggests.

But rather than call for a ban on the Salafi schools altogether, the Montaigne Institute essayists would rather beat them at their own game.

El Karaoui has proposed that the French government incorporate Arabic into the education syllabus so that the indoctrination schools’ alleged language teaching offering becomes redundant.

“The number of students learning Arabic in France’s secondary and high schools has halved. But the rate has multiplied by ten in mosques,” El Karaoui explains.

READ ALSO: Provocative survey reveals French hostility toward Muslims

The liberal think-tank also wants the creation of an official Muslim Association for Islam in France (Amif), an open institution it hopes can stamp out the country’s underground fundamentalist movement.

“The idea is to create a neutral organization, independent from any Muslim country, free from the control of those in charge of France’s mosques, and the French State,” El Karaoui told RTL.

“The objective is neutrality, at the moment funding channels (for Islam in France) are opaque.”

For this the think-tank proposes the introduction of a ‘halal tax’ on food products and other services for Muslims who would allow the association to be self-sufficient.

“There is no halal tax levied by the state,” said El Karaoui, a former banker.

“The levy would be managed by the association and inspired by the kosher tax of the Jewish community, managed by the rabbinates that certify kosher products.

“Contrary to popular belief Muslims are wealthier and they practice their religion a lot.”

“There is therefore more and more money related to consumption: the pilgrimage, halal, Muslim gifts.”

“This is a levy that can be organized by the Muslim community for the Muslim community,” El Karaoui told Europe 1. 

According to El Karaoui stopping the spread of Islamic fundamentalism in Europe is largely up to Muslims themselves, who need to urgently show opposition to extremism and set up structures that promote more openness. 

SEE ALSO: How France's Muslim population will grow in future


The think-tank's proposed measures certainly have their critics, such as French Senate representative for France's Vendée department Bruno Retailleau, who tweeted that the “the institutionalisation or nationalisation of Islam France is dangerous because it is contrary to France's law of separation of Religion and State. A state halal tax would be unconstitutional. Concordatory Islam is a dead end”.




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Erdogan calls French separatism bill ‘guillotine’ of democracy

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday denounced a planned French law designed to counter "Islamist separatism" as a "guillotine" of democracy.

Erdogan calls French separatism bill 'guillotine' of democracy
Erdogan has already denounced the proposed measures as "anti-Muslim". Photo: Adem ALTAN/AFP

The draft legislation has been criticised both inside France and abroad for stigmatising Muslims and giving the state new powers to limit speech and religious groups.

“The adoption of this law, which is openly in contradiction of human rights, freedom of religion and European values, will be a guillotine blow inflicted on French democracy,” said Erdogan in a speech in Ankara.

The current version of the planned law would only serve the cause of extremism, putting NGOs under pressure and “forcing young people to choose between their beliefs and their education”, he added.

READ ALSO: What’s in France’s new law to crack down on Islamist extremism?

“We call on the French authorities, and first of all President (Emmanuel) Macron, to act sensibly,” he continued. “We expect a rapid withdrawal of this bill.”

Erdogan also said he was ready to work with France on security issues and integration, but relations between the two leaders have been strained for some time.

France’s government is in the process of passing new legislation to crack down on what it has termed “Islamist separatism”, which would give the state more power to vet and disband religious groups judged to be threats to the nation.

Erdogan has already denounced the proposed measures as “anti-Muslim”.

READ ALSO: Has Macron succeeded in creating an ‘Islam for France’?

Last October, Erdogan questioned Macron’s “mental health”, accusing him of waging a “campaign of hatred” against Islam, after the French president defended the right of cartoonists to caricature the prophet Mohammed.

The two countries are also at odds on a number of other issues, including Libya, Syria and the eastern Mediterranean.