At the Heart of the UOIF

05.04.2016 Soufiane Zitouni

In April 2015, while the annual conference of the Union of Islamic Organizations of France (UOIF) opens Friday at Le Bourget to discuss “Mohammed, the Prophet of Mercy and Peace”, the organization is experiencing internal tensions, with two of its former members, leaders of young Muslim association in France, pointing to UOIF Islamist drifts. The investigation below has been conducted by France 24 reporters, Alexandra RENARD and Roméo LANGLOIS

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The Union of Islamic Organizations of France (UOIF), which boasts more than 250 member associations in France, is one of the main bodies organizing the French Muslim community, but more and more dissenting voices are being heard within the Organization. Among them, two former members, leaders of young Muslim association in France, are pointing to Islamist drifts within the UOIF.

While UOIF representatives claim that their thoughts simply reflect conformity to Islam, under the French republican laws, its detractors assert that the Organization is the showcase of the Muslim Brotherhood in France. A member of the French Council of the Muslim faith (CFCM), this major actor of Islam in France has gone through several crises, beginning with its referencing as a “terrorist organization” by the United Arab Emirates in November 2014, along with 81 other groups or organizations, including Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State organization, the Somali Shebab or Boko Haram … The UOIF expressed its disappointment on this “insulting and ridiculous” qualification, which harms the Muslims of France.

A few months earlier, in February 2015, Averroès Muslim High School of Lille – connected to the UOIF – was criticized. In a column published in “Liberation”, a resigning philosophy professor denounced “a conception of Islam that is none other than Islamism”, as well as the students’ cultural anti-Semitism. The school director filed a complaint for defamation.

Finally, in the aftermath of Paris bombings, Prime Minister Manuel Valls appealed to “fight Muslim Brotherhood speech in our country”, which was seen as a reference to the UOIF in France.

Is the Organization a threat to the French Republic or is it working towards improving community life? Our reporters conducted their investigation in Paris, Lille and Nantes. They met with the president of the UOIF, Amar Lasfar, but also with former members who openly point to the Islamist drifts of the Organization.

By Alexandra RENARD, and Romeo LANGLOIS

This post is also available in Français .

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