By KARINA PISER
When French President Emmanuel Macron said in an interview last month that he plans to “set down markers on the entire way in which Islam is organized in France,” he wasn’t making an unprecedented announcement. Rather, he was pledging to succeed where his predecessors have failed.
Successive governments since the 1980s have tried to create a brand of Islam particular to France, with the dual objective of integrating the country’s Muslim minority and fighting Islamist extremism. The goal has been to create an Islam that both conforms to national values, notably secularism, and is immune to the radical interpretations that have gained a footing in certain parts of the Muslim world. Ironically, past attempts to codify a sort of French Islam—transforming Islam in France to an Islam of France—have been deeply entangled with French Muslims’ countries of origin, especially Morocco, Algeria, and Turkey. In 2015, for example, then-President François Hollande signed a deal with the Moroccan monarchy to send French imams to a training institute in Rabat.