France’s leading Muslim body called on Tuesday for imams to require a permit to preach in a bid to root out extremists, and for a new religious body to fight back against jihadist propaganda.
Anouar Kbibech, president of the French Council for the Muslim Religion (CFCM), said the country’s imams should be given a certificate – “like a driving licence” – that ensured they promoted a “tolerant and open Islam”.
The CFCM said it would hand out the permits by testing theological knowledge and adherence to French principles, and make them sign an “imams’ charter” in which they agreed to “respect the laws of the Republic”.
Kbibech did not say whether he thought the process should be obligatory for all imams.
“The time for action has come. The Muslims of France will play their part,” said Kbibech.
He also said the CFCM would set up a “religious council” that would challenge jihadist ideology using theological arguments.
Coming 11 days after the attacks that killed 130 people in Paris, Kbibech said those who engaged in violence would “never have the support of France’s Muslims”.