PARIS (AP) — French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve proposed a plan Wednesday aimed at promoting a better dialogue with France's Muslim community, that includes training imams at university.
The plan would promote an Islam "faithful to the values of the Republic," Cazeneuve said, insisting on France's tradition of secularism. The creation of a new representative body would help Muslim leaders and French authorities address issues such as security, prevention of radicalization and preventing anti-Muslims acts, he said.
This body would meet with the government twice a year, on a model inspired by the dialogue the French government has had with leaders of the Catholic church since 2002. The French government also regularly consults with Jewish community leaders via the country's main Jewish organization, the CRIF council.
The plan has been decided together with leaders of the existing French Muslim council, the CFCM, created in 2003.
It is important for the Muslim community in France to be able to count on "trained and well-qualified people to take out of (Muslim) religion all poisons of fanaticism and fundamentalism," the president of the CFCM and rector of Paris' mosque, Dalil Boubakeur, said Tuesday.
The training at university would be mandatory for Muslim chaplains who work in prisons.
The plan comes amid increasing religious tension in France following the Jan. 7-9 terror attacks in Paris by Islamic extremists against a satirical weekly, a policewoman and a kosher grocery store that claimed a total of 17 victims.
Anti-Muslim acts in France in just the month after the attacks totaled the same as the entire previous year, Cazeneuve said.