An Italian news agency is reporting the President of the Union des organizations islamiques de France (UOIF), essentially the Muslim Brotherhood in France, appears to have changed its opposition to a training program for Islamic imams to be conducted by the Institut catholique de Paris (Catholic Institute of Paris.) As previous posts reported, the program is said to have a “secular basis” and 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. According to the statement posted on the UOIF website, the initiative is “an attempt to mislead public opinion” and argues that the training of Islamic Imams is an “internal affair” that should be left up to “representatives of each religious family.” According to the news agency report, however:
The president of France’s largest Muslim group the Union of French Islamic Organisations (UOIF), Thami Breze, and other prominent Muslims have defended a new course for would-be imams at the Catholic Insitute in Paris.”Why attach such importance to the location of this course?” said Breze to Adnkronos International (AKI), referring to recent media controversy about the course. “These people are students, not imams.”…The UOIF had earlier expressed reservations about the course. The brainchild of France’s interior ministry, the course was welcomed by the Paris Mosque, which has sent a number of its students to take part. The UOIF believes however that imams need to be trained in a range of disciplines, Breze noted. “These include “sociology, the history of France, secularism and civics,” he said. Breze urged professors in these subjects to come and teach courses at the Paris Mosque’s own institute for the training of imams.”By bringing in such university teachers from outside an institute such as the Paris Mosque’s has the potential to integrate Islamic law courses,” he stated.
It appeared earlier that the UOIF was concerned about losing any small amount of control it has over the training of French imams represented by its largely failed theological training institute known as the Institut europÃ©en de sciences humaines (IESH) an educational facility also associated with the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE), the EU-level European Muslim Brotherhood organization. It may be that the latest statements by Breze are merely an attempt at saving face over the issue by referring to the students in question as “students, not imams.”