The French Muslim Brotherhood is objecting to the announcement of the January 2008 launch of a training program for Islamic imams to be conducted by the Institut catholique de Paris (Catholic Institute of Paris). An French online religious newsletter describes the program as having a “secular basis” that will not involve theological issues:
Concretely, this program will contain four themes: general culture: history of modernity, the republican values, the institutions and the political life of France… ; legal : rights of the religions, economy and management of worship, human rights… ; openess in the religious world in a nontheological approach but calling upon the social sciences; and “multiculturalism.”
The program is supported by the French Ministry of the Interior as well as the Grand Mosque of Paris, the arch-rival of the Muslim Brotherhood in France and closely tied to the government of Morocco. However, a leader of the French Muslim Brotherhood, known as the Union des organizations islamiques de France (UOIF), stated his objections:
We never were against a general, university-based nonreligious program for Imams, says Fouad Alaloui, first vice-president of the UOIF. But symbolically, I do not believe that the place is adequate: one will not form Imams with the Catholic Institute of Paris. A more neutral place is needed.
The UOIF operates its own imam training facility that is associated with the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE), the Brotherhood umbrella organization for Europe.. A previous post has reported on the low graduation rate at that facility.
(note: quotations machine translated and further edited)