PARIS (RNS) The powerful Grand Mosque of Paris will pull out of a new, state-sponsored Muslim foundation, criticizing “interference” in how Islam is exercised, at a time of simmering tensions surrounding France’s second-largest faith, its spokesman said.
The mosque, which represents some 250 Muslim associations, called in a statement for other Muslim groups to follow suit and “reject all attempts of stewardship” by the state.
Officially launched in December, the Foundation for Islam in France has a purely cultural aim, while a separate body linked to it is tasked with raising funds for mosque construction and training of imams. But the selection of a 77-year-old Catholic and former interior minister, Jean-Pierre Chevenement, to head the body has stirred controversy.
Chevenement has opposed efforts to ban the Muslim burkini on beaches and the veil in universities, but he has also stirred opposition by calling on Muslims to be more discreet.