France’s official Muslim council elected a new leadership on Sunday that promised to tackle problems left mostly unresolved for five years because of power struggles that stymied its former administration. Mohammed Moussaoui of the Moroccan-backed Rally of French Muslims (RMF) took over as president of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), founded in 2003 to represent what is now the second-largest faith in France after Roman Catholicism. The RMF had won 43.2 percent in the first round of voting on June 8, ahead of the Union of French Islamic Organisations (UOIF) at 30.2 percent and a Turkish mosque network at 12.7 percent. The Paris Grand Mosque network boycotted the poll. Moussaoui, an imam and mathematics lecturer at the University of Avignon, announced a reform of the CFCM but avoided any public criticism of its former head, Dalil Boubakeur, rector of the Algerian-backed Paris Grand Mosque….A major problem facing the CFCM is financing. The government helped set up in 2005 a foundation that would accept donations from Muslims in France and abroad to finance the CFCM and its projects, but political rivalries have paralysed it. That body still reflects the old leadership structure of the CFCM, with Boubakeur at its head, and CFCM officials said these rivalries could continue to block it from taking action. Moussaoui said he hoped for change there as well, but did not spell out what could be done. “We are counting on Dalil Boubakeur to give the CFCM the means to function,” he said.
Elected as CFCM Vice-President was Fouad Alaoui, the Secretary-General of the UOIF, generally regarded as the Muslim Brotherhood in France. Born in Morocco, Alaoui and Lhaj Thami Breze took over the leadership of the UOIF in 1993 and were known as the “Bordelaise Clan”, a reference to the French town in which they met as students. They were generally regarded as more moderate than their predecessors. Alaoui is also an officer of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE), the umbrella group for the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe.