France’s Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve met with senior Muslim representatives on August 29 in an effort to revive relations. They agreed on the creation of an Islamic foundation that is fully funded with money from within France.
As reported by the Agence France-Presse (AFP), the French government is seeking to open a new chapter in relations with the country’s Muslims following a summer scarred by jihadist attacks and a ban on burkinis that ratcheted up communal tensions.
Anouar Kbibech, leader of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), said he hoped the talks were the start of a new chapter in relations. “This positive development will put an end to the repulsive saga of the burkini,” he said.
Cazeneuve said the aim of the discussions was to forge “an Islam anchored in the values of the French Republic”.
But the choice of 77-year-old former defence minister Jean-Pierre Chevenement to head the foundation has sparked controversy, with many observers asking why a Muslim was not given the role. When asked by AFP, Chevenement said: “As a former interior minister myself, I could not turn down the opportunity to contribute to this initiative of great interest to the public.”