Islam more important than European values, a French survey says

A majority of French Muslims do not support the right to blasphemy. For the young in particular, Islam is more important than EU values, while the Muslim umbrella organization in France calls for ignoring Mohammed cartoons.

The “right to blasphemy”, which President Emmanuel Macron wants to see protected in France, arouses unease among many French Muslims. That is the result of a survey by the opinion research institute Ifop, commissioned by the “Charlie Hebdo” newspaper. 40 percent of the Muslims surveyed stated that they put their religious convictions above the values ​​of the republic and Europe, such as freedom of expression and conscience. Among Muslims under the age of 25, 74 percent believe that their religion is above the public law. 69 percent of Muslims rate the reprint of the Mohammed cartoons as “unnecessary provocation”. Only 19 percent of them believe that blasphemous caricatures contribute to freedom of expression. 70 percent say it was an editorial mistake to print it.

For a large part of the French, the right to express disrespect for religions remains a valuable asset. According to the survey, 59 percent of the French approve the decision of the satirical newspaper “Charlie Hebdo” to print the controversial Mohammed cartoons in the name of freedom of expression. A third say the caricatures are “unnecessary provocation”.

By contrast, there is broad social consensus when it comes to condemning the terrorist attacks. 92 percent of the French condemn the attack on “Charlie Hebdo”, in which Muslim assassins broke into the editorial office in January 2015 and killed eleven people. For the French Muslims, it is 82 percent. The attitude of young Muslims between the ages of 15 and 17 is striking, here the percentage is lower. Only 67 percent condemn the attacks. During a minute’s silence for the terrorist victims, disruptions at many schools in the banlieue accord.

In contrast to the first publication of the cartoons in February 2006, the umbrella organization of the Muslim associations CFCM reacted immediately this time and called on Muslims to “ignore” the drawings. In a communiqué, the Islamic Council affirmed that it condemned all forms of violence. “Terrorism, which strikes in the name of our religion, is our enemy,” said Muhammad Moussaou, who has headed the CFCM since the beginning of the year. The Franco-Moroccan is considered to be much more moderate than his predecessor Ahmet Ogras, a Franco-Turk with close connections to the Turkish government and the AKP. “We strongly condemn the magazine’s decision to republish cartoons that contain disrespect for our religion and our prophet,” said the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

The Morocco-born Imam of Bordeaux, Tareq Oubrou, on the other hand, appealed to the faithful to view freedom of expression as an advantage for themselves. “We live in a constitutional state. If there are conflicts, they are settled through the judiciary, ”he said on the radio station France Inter. At the same time, he expressed the fear that a number of Muslims would not know how to interpret the cartoons. “There are perceptions and feelings and a climate of tension that has gripped all layers of our society,” said Oubrou. “I call on Muslims to be indifferent,” he said.

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