French President Emmanuel Macron (C-R) speaks with a Muslim cleric as he visits the Zitouna mosque in the Medina (old town) of the Tunisian capital Tunis on February 1, 2018, during his first state visit to the North African country. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Eric FEFERBERG
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks with a cleric as he visits the Zitouna mosque in the old town of Tunisian capital Tunis on February 1, 2018, during his first state visit to the former French cShow more

Macron faces big challenge in defining Islam's place in France



President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to deliver a keynote speech on Islam in France is the latest in a long line of initiatives to deal with the tangled history of relations with Europe’s largest Muslim population.

Determined to assert himself as a boldly reforming head of state, Mr Macron’s declared aim is to find accommodation between different religions but also between those who worship and non-believers.

At the same time, the centrist president believes, France must tackle real or perceived issues with fundamental strands of Islam.

As Mr Macron will quickly discover, the success or failure of his mission may depend on how well he performs a delicate balancing act.

He must somehow reassure the majority of French people attached to the country’s secular principles without alienating followers of France’s biggest religion after Catholicism and making them feel like “the enemy within”.

In recent history, leaders of the traditional left and right parties rejected by voters in last year’s presidential and parliamentary elections have stumbled in their search for a viable twin approach.

The centre-right Nicolas Sarkozy, president from 2007 to 2012, offended French Muslims with his bans on face-covering headwear in public.

After his departure from office, his policy had its logical sequel as mayors in Mediterranean and other coastal resorts banned the so-called burqini in the summer of 2016. This led to unedifying images of police confronting Muslim women on Riviera beaches, though the bans were later overturned by the courts.

Mr Sarkozy also created, when interior minister in 2002, the French Muslim Council (CFCM) as a representative body. But its work has been hampered by internal disputes and the council has not won the respect of significant numbers of Muslims.

Even less successful among Mr Sarkozy’s initiatives was a public debate on national identity launched in 2009. Opponents suspected a thinly disguised attempt to court voters from France's anti-immigration extreme right by exploiting fears about immigration and insecurity.

His socialist successor, Francois Hollande, also struggled to make meaningful advances, forced instead to react with emergency powers and hardline measures to a succession of murderous ISIL attacks in Paris, Nice and elsewhere.

Outlining his own intentions in the French Sunday newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche, Mr Macron promised a major speech in the first half of this year on the place of Islam in France.

He said he would consult Islamic scholars and also prominent figures from other faiths “because I consider we must be strongly inspired by our history, the history of Catholics and that of Protestants”.

The centre-left news magazine Marianne, named after the French national symbol, said the "floor-to-ceiling" restructuring Mr Macron envisages can hardly avoid reform of the CFCM, "a cumbersome body [that is] supposed to be representative of Muslims in France but has become became the guardian of orthodoxy and never managed to represent their plurality".

As well as considering new representative bodies, Mr Macron will examine the funding of mosques and the training of imams, again familiar territory in France. With terminology that might have come from Mr Sarkozy's lips, a Macron aide told Le Journal du Dimanche that the challenge was to "reduce the influence of Arab countries, which prevents the French Islam from embracing modernity".

Whatever he does, Mr Macron is unlikely to please the far-right, anti-immigration and – many believe – anti-Islam Front National.

Its leader Marine Le Pen was soundly beaten by Mr Macron in the run-off for the presidency last year but still won 10.6 million votes, a third of those cast. She told Europe 1 radio his statements so far were “blurred to say the least” but already betrayed “unbearable, unacceptable" elements, such as the idea of a new, undefined “concordat” with Islam and possible tampering with the cornerstone of French secularism, the law of 1905 separating church and state.

In his dealings with restless trade unions and British Brexiteers, Mr Macron has shown himself up for a fight. But community relations are a minefield he will need to tread carefully.

There is no official figure for French Muslim citizens and calculations vary widely, with five million the most commonly quoted estimate.

Encouragingly for those championing harmony between Muslims and non-Muslims, a recent poll found 56 per cent of those questioned considered Islam compatible with French values - the exact reverse of findings in 2016.

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

ROUTE TO TITLE

Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

MEYDAN RACECARD

6pm Arabian Adventures – Maiden (TB) Dh82,500 (Dirt) 1,200m
6.35pm Emirates Sky Cargo – Handicap (TB) 87,500 (D) 2,000m
7.10pm Emirates Holiday – Maiden (TB) Dh82,500 (D) 1,400m
7.45pm Emirates Skywards – Handicap (TB) Dh87,500 (D) 1,400m
8.20pm Emirates Airline – Handicap (TB) Dh105,000 (D) 1,600m
8.55pm Emirates Airline – Handicap (TB) Dh105,000 (D) 1,900m
9.30pm Emirates.com – Handicap (TB_ Dh87,500 (D) 1,200m

The years Ramadan fell in May

1987

1954

1921

1888

LA LIGA FIXTURES

Saturday (All UAE kick-off times)

Valencia v Atletico Madrid (midnight)

Mallorca v Alaves (4pm)

Barcelona v Getafe (7pm)

Villarreal v Levante (9.30pm)

Sunday

Granada v Real Volladolid (midnight)

Sevilla v Espanyol (3pm)

Leganes v Real Betis (5pm)

Eibar v Real Sociedad (7pm)

Athletic Bilbao v Osasuna (9.30pm)

Monday

Real Madrid v Celta Vigo (midnight)

Indika

Developer: 11 Bit Studios
Publisher: Odd Meter
Console: PlayStation 5, PC and Xbox series X/S
Rating: 4/5

'Manmarziyaan' (Colour Yellow Productions, Phantom Films)
Director: Anurag Kashyap​​​​​​​
Cast: Abhishek Bachchan, Taapsee Pannu, Vicky Kaushal​​​​​​​
Rating: 3.5/5

Abaya trends

The utilitarian robe held dear by Arab women is undergoing a change that reveals it as an elegant and graceful garment available in a range of colours and fabrics, while retaining its traditional appeal.

25-MAN SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho, Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Daniel Akpeyi
Defenders: Olaoluwa Aina, Abdullahi Shehu, Chidozie Awaziem, William Ekong, Leon Balogun, Kenneth Omeruo, Jamilu Collins, Semi Ajayi 
Midfielders: John Obi Mikel, Wilfred Ndidi, Oghenekaro Etebo, John Ogu
Forwards: Ahmed Musa, Victor Osimhen, Moses Simon, Henry Onyekuru, Odion Ighalo, Alexander Iwobi, Samuel Kalu, Paul Onuachu, Kelechi Iheanacho, Samuel Chukwueze 

On Standby: Theophilus Afelokhai, Bryan Idowu, Ikouwem Utin, Mikel Agu, Junior Ajayi, Valentine Ozornwafor

Scorebox

Dubai Hurricanes 31 Dubai Sports City Eagles 22

Hurricanes

Tries: Finck, Powell, Jordan, Roderick, Heathcote

Cons: Tredray 2, Powell

Eagles

Tries: O’Driscoll 2, Ives

Cons: Carey 2

Pens: Carey

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian
Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).
Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming
Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics
Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

Abu Dhabi GP schedule

Friday: First practice - 1pm; Second practice - 5pm

Saturday: Final practice - 2pm; Qualifying - 5pm

Sunday: Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (55 laps) - 5.10pm

CABINET OF CURIOSITIES EPISODE 1: LOT 36

Director: Guillermo del Toro
Stars: Tim Blake Nelson, Sebastian Roche, Elpidia Carrillo
Rating: 4/5

Dengue fever symptoms
  • High fever
  • Intense pain behind your eyes
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen glands
  • Rash

If symptoms occur, they usually last for two-seven days

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Kinetic 7
Started: 2018
Founder: Rick Parish
Based: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Industry: Clean cooking
Funding: $10 million
Investors: Self-funded

SPEC SHEET: SAMSUNG GALAXY Z FOLD 4

Main display: 7.6" QXGA+ Dynamic Amoled 2X, 2176 x 1812, 21.6:18, 374ppi, HDR10+, up to 120Hz

Cover display: 6.2" HD+ Dynamic Amoled 2X, 2316 x 904, 23.1:9, 402ppi, up to 120Hz

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, 4nm, octa-core; Adreno 730 GPU

Memory: 12GB

Capacity: 256/512GB / 1TB

Platform: Android 12, One UI 4.1.1

Main camera: Triple 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.2) + 50MP wide (f/1.8) + 10MP telephoto (f/2.4), dual OIS, 3x optical zoom, 30x Space Zoom, portrait, super slo-mo

Video: 8K@24fps, 4K@30/60fps, full-HD@30/60fps, HD@30fps; slo-mo@60/240/960fps; HDR10+

Cover camera: 10MP (f/2.2)

Inner front camera: Under-display 4MP (f/1.8)

Battery: 4400mAh, 25W fast charging, 15W wireless charging, reverse wireless charging, 'all-day' life

Connectivity: 5G; Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC (Samsung Pay)

I/O: USB-C

Cards: Nano-SIM + eSIM; 2 nano-SIMs + eSIM; 2 nano-SIMs

Colours: Graygreen, phantom black, beige, burgundy (online exclusive)

In the box: Fold 4, USB-C-to-USB-C cable

Price: Dh6,799 / Dh7,249 / Dh8,149

Match info

Costa Rica 0

Serbia 1
Kolarov (56')

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

HAEMOGLOBIN DISORDERS EXPLAINED

Thalassaemia is part of a family of genetic conditions affecting the blood known as haemoglobin disorders.

Haemoglobin is a substance in the red blood cells that carries oxygen and a lack of it triggers anemia, leaving patients very weak, short of breath and pale.

The most severe type of the condition is typically inherited when both parents are carriers. Those patients often require regular blood transfusions - about 450 of the UAE's 2,000 thalassaemia patients - though frequent transfusions can lead to too much iron in the body and heart and liver problems.

The condition mainly affects people of Mediterranean, South Asian, South-East Asian and Middle Eastern origin. Saudi Arabia recorded 45,892 cases of carriers between 2004 and 2014.

A World Health Organisation study estimated that globally there are at least 950,000 'new carrier couples' every year and annually there are 1.33 million at-risk pregnancies.

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

John Wick: Chapter 4

Director: Chad Stahelski

Stars: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, George Georgiou

Rating: 4/5

TWISTERS

Director: Lee Isaac Chung

Starring: Glenn Powell, Daisy Edgar-Jones, Anthony Ramos

Rating: 2.5/5

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
The Roundup

Director: Lee Sang-yong
Stars: Ma Dong-seok, Sukku Son, Choi Gwi-hwa
Rating: 4/5


View from London

Your weekly update from the UK and Europe

      By signing up, I agree to The National's privacy policy
      View from London