The case of Moroccan Imam Hassan Equisen has revived the controversy over the Muslim Brotherhood and its role in France and Europe, where the French government is currently forming a reform bill for the Immigration and Asylum Law, and the deportation process for foreigners who have committed terrorist or criminal acts.
The French parliament is preparing in October to coordinate on this issue with the European Union countries, to prevent the return of these extremist elements to any of the European countries later. As French reports indicate
Since late 2020, Paris has put political Islam groups under scrutiny against the backdrop of the role’s exposure of their supporters in justifying Islamist violence.
Especially after the killing of Samuel Patti by an extremist, also the attempt of the Brotherhood to turn the political skirmishes between French President Emmanuel Macron and his Turkish counterpart at the time, into a battle on France’s national land, to overthrow its role in the Middle East in favor of Ankara.
The group’s current status
The Brotherhood’s presence in France dates back to the sixties of the last century, when members and supporters of the Brotherhood flocked from Egypt and Maghreb countries and quickly penetrated into the Muslim communities, as in most European countries.
France has the largest Muslim community in Europe, with an estimated 6 million Muslims living in French society. The overwhelming majority of French Muslims are from the Maghreb countries and their percentage (82%) of the total French Muslims (43.2%) are from Algeria, (27.5%) are from Morocco, (11.4%) are from Tunisia, and (9.3%) are from South Africa. The Sahara, (8.6%) from Turkey, and (0.1%) French converted to Islam, according to a study published by the European Studies Center for the Study of Counter-Terrorism and Intelligence.
The Brotherhood’s penetration into France was enshrined in the founding of the French Council for the Islamic Religion, during the reign of the former Minister of the Interior and later President, Nicolas Sarkozy, in 2003. Representatives of the community were integrated into the institution, under the slogan of integrating representatives of the Muslim community into the official institutions that speak for the community before the French authorities.
Today, the group dominates many intellectual institutions and charitable organizations in neighboring countries, especially Belgium, Germany and Italy. Most notably: the “Union of Islamic Organizations in France” (UOIF) or currently “Muslims of France” (MF), which was founded in the Mort-Moselle region in June 1983, by four associations of northern and eastern France, most of whose members were Tunisians and some refugees from the Middle East (Syria Lebanon and Iraq) and local Islamic associations.
The organization consists of more than 250 Islamic associations throughout France, and also supervises several mosques in the major cities of the country.
In 1990, the Federation of Islamic Organizations in France contributed to establishment of a European body dominated by the Brotherhood, the Federation of European Islamic Organizations, which has specialized branches, such as the European Council for Fatwa and Research (CEFR) or the European Forum for Muslim Youth and Student Organizations (FEMYSO).
Many of France’s “Muslims” are members of the Qatar-based International Union of Muslim Scholars (UISM). In 2015, the Council of Muslims of France announced the establishment of the Islamic Council of France (CTMF), which is responsible for issuing fatwas to French Muslims.
In January 2019, the French president announced the establishment of the )Association musulmane pour l’islam de France(, known as AMIF, whose stated goal was to train and recruit imams, as well as to monitor fundraising, but it turned out nearly a year later that it was infiltrated by the group, through Tarek Obero and Mohamed Bagraville.
The list of organizations associated with the group also includes; The Islamic Youth Organization in Europe (FEMYSO), the Association “Faith and Practice”, Center for Studies and Research on Islam, the European Institute for Human Sciences, Ibn Sina Institute for the Graduation of Imams, “Lallab” Feminist Association Against Racism, “Baraka” Association, and “ATIC” Association Co-Exist, the Coordination Committee of Turkish Muslims in France, the Muslim Youth of France, Muslim Students from France, the French Association of Muslim Women, the Anti-Islamophobia Gathering that was dissolved in late 2020, Sheikh Yassin Foundation and Milli Grouch Movement, which were also dissolved, in addition to the offices of the Tunisian Ennahda, the Moroccan Justice and Development Party, and others.
Government measures to restrict the group
Since the end of 2020, France has entered into a conflict with the Muslim Brotherhood, which has established its presence in the country over the past decades. After the killing of the teacher Samuel Baty, who was beheaded on October 16, 2020, the French authorities announced the dissolution of many Muslim Brotherhood associations, the most important of which is the “Anti-Islam phobia Gathering”, one of the organizations affiliated with the French Muslim Association.
In the same period, Baraka City was dissolved and the Bantan City Mosque was closed because of their proximity to the Brotherhood and incitement against teacher Samuel Patti before his murder. The French Interior Ministry decided at the time to dissolve the Turkish nationalist Gray Wolves movement, against the backdrop of its promotion of hatred and the perpetration of violent acts.
On July 24, 2021, the French authorities announced the organization of workshops to address the penetration of political Islam ideas through the establishment of training courses for teachers of French middle and high schools to be conducted by (1000) specialized trainers, to be expanded later to address all workers in the education sector, state institutions, civil society organizations and political parties.
Last year, the French Ministry of Economy and Finance launched extensive investigations into the sources of funding for religious and intellectual associations and mosques that call for a “separatist Islam” on French soil, with the aim of fighting clandestine financial circles and the financing of terrorism, considering money is the basis of hate speech and ideological war waged by Islamist organizations.
Last August, France’s interior and economy ministries set up a joint working group to better control the financial departments associated with travel agencies specializing in selling tickets and packages for the annual pilgrimage to Mecca to tens of thousands of Muslims in France.
The decision was interpreted as part of the French government’s efforts to deprive the Brotherhood of the large financial income it receives because of its control over most of the private travel agencies that regulate the Hajj pilgrimage for the Muslims of France, and to put in place mechanisms to control this through private companies under the supervision of the relevant French authorities.