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Union des Organisations Islamiques de France

By:
Wihtol de Wenden Catherine, Jocelyne Cesari
Source:
The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World What is This? Provides comprehensive scholarly coverage of the full geographical and historical extent of Islam

Union des Organisations Islamiques de France

Created in 1983 in Nancy by a friend of Mustapha Machtour, the leader of the Muslim Brothers, the Union des Organisations Islamiques de France (UOIF) is a federation of Islamic local associations. It is one of the most important federations of Islamic associations in France. In 1994, thirty local associations were full adherents of the UOIF, with about seventy affiliate associations (73 in 2007). Each category of association has the right to vote for the administrative council and the governing board of the federation, which in 1990 was composed of twelve members of various nationalities: Moroccan, Tunisian, Lebanese, Iraqi, and French is still made of these main nationalities. In addition to the contributions of the local affiliated associations, the UOIF receives financial help from the Muslim World League and from private individuals from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates.

Although the leaders of this organization are influenced by Egyptian and Tunisian fundamentalist movements, they have not been engaged in any political activities in France. Rather, the main goal of the UOIF is to enhance Islamic culture by legal means and to help Muslims practice their religion in France. Its leaders seek to support the Islamic local associations in managing religious and educational activities for the teaching of the Qurʿān and Arabic, and educational methods to protect Muslim children from the temptations of the Western way of life (such as holiday camps where there is Qurʿānic teaching, with hundreds of families involved). At the end of 1991, with funds from Saudi Arabia, the UOIF created the first Muslim seminary in France for the training of imams. It opened at Château-Chinon in 1991, then settled at Saint-Denis in 2002 because of low enrollment. It organizes an annual conference on Islam near Paris (Le Bourget), where an average of five thousand participants gather.

The Union has led several fights, all considered to reflect the neo-fundamentalism of the conservative Gulf states. For instance, it sought the authorization of the French Ministry of the Interior for Muslim women to sit for their identity card photographs with their ḥijābs (headscarves) and supported Muslim girls wearing their ḥijābs in the state schools before the law of March 2004 prohibited them. It was involved in the conflict concerning the market in ḥalāl meat against the Mosque of Paris. It practiced the system of recommendations (tazkias) allowing the association's leaders to get subsidies for their mosques from Gulf States that considered the UOIF the main representative of Islam in France. It issued a fatwā to condemn the inner-city rioters of October 2005. It has taken part in the debate on the institutionalization of Islam in France. When Nicholas Sarkozy, the Interior Minister, created the CFCM (Conseil français du culte musulman) in April 2003, the UOIF gained a vice president (Fouad Alaoui, allied with the Muslim Brothers organization) and strong representation for its mosques. On January 10, 2008, the UOIF has co-signed with with the other associations of FOIE (Federation of Islamic organizations in Europe) a Chart of European Muslims in order to propose an efficient participation of muslims in their relations with states and societies in Europe. This text refers to a moderate Islam with banishes excess and facility, allows diversity of human beings, compassion, solidarity, brotherhood, equality between men and women and refuses violence and terrorism”. The Chart asks to muslims to lead a positive integration thanks to their political rights.

See also CONSEIL FRANçAIS DU CULTE MUSULMAN (CFCM); FRANCE; and MUSLIM WORLD LEAGUE.

Bibliography

  • Boyer, Alain. L’islam en France. Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1998. A very well-documented historical approach.
  • Cesari, Jocelyne. L’islam à l’épreuve de l’Occident. Paris: Découverte, 2004. An overview of
  • Fregosi, Frank. “La représentation institutionnelle de l’islam en France.” In Histoire de l’islam et des musulmans en France du Moyen Age à nos jours, edited by Mohammed Arkoun, pp. 837–855. Paris: Albin Michel, 2006. A precise contribution to this remarkable book.
  • Sellam, Sadek, La France et ses musulmans: Un siècle de politique musulmane, 1895–2005. Paris: Fayard, 2006. Very well documented.
  • Wihtol de Wenden, Catherine, and Jocelyne Cesari“Musulmans d’Europe.”Cahiers du CEMOTI. Paris, October2002. A series of field studies.
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