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France must stop foreign funding of Muslim organisations, says PM

PM Manuel Valls says inquiry to be launched in coming days to look into Muslim organisation funding, imam training
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls speaks this week in Paris (AFP)

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Thursday that action must be taken to prevent foreign funding of Muslim organisations in the country.

In the coming days, Valls told the French Senate in a speech, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve will hold a series of broad consultations about the future of Muslim organisations in France.

"How can we accept that Islam in France receives funding from a number of foreign countries, no matter who they are? This is the first question that we must ask," Valls said.

"This means that it is necessary to take a number of steps as soon as possible to prevent such funding, especially when the organisations reinforce certain types of behaviours," he added.

In addition to scrutinising the foreign funding for mosques, Cazeneuve's inquiry - which will ask "all necessary questions," Valls said - will also look into how imams are trained.

"We seek to establish a model of Islam that is fully integrated, fully compatible with the values of the Republic," he said.

Valls also proposed that a dialogue with Muslim countries should be established on the same topics of inquiry.

Earlier this week, Valls told Europe 1 Radio that the country had to fight "the speech of the Muslim Brotherhood".

"We must fight the discourse of the Muslim Brotherhood in our country. We must fight the Salafist groups in neighbourhoods," Valls was quoted as saying by France 24.

Valls comments come one month after the 7 January shooting of 12 people at the offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo which culminated in police assaults on two different sites that resulted in deaths of the gunmen Cherif and Said Kouachi.

On 9 January, a third gunman, Amedy Coulibaly, killed a policewoman and four hostages at a kosher supermarket in Paris and was later killed in a police raid.

Twelve years ago, the French government created the French Council of the Muslim Faith as an official representative of the five million Muslims in France and is responsible for the needs of the community, including funding for organisations. 

But many religious and political leaders in France have expressed dissatisfaction with the council.

France has adopted a republican secular system since 1905 that prohibits the state from supporting religious institutions of any kind.

In the weeks following the attacks, the French Council for the Muslim Religion, a leading Muslim group in France, said that there have been as many anti-Muslim attacks in the country as for all of 2014.

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