Even Non-Religious Muslims Forming New Groups In France

June 20, 2009

Author: Elizabeth Bryant



New Muslim groups are mushrooming in France, reflecting a growing disenchantment with the country's main Islamic organization and an openness to non-practicing Muslims.

The latest group, launched June 12, is a federation of some 40 Muslim associations dubbed Mosaic. It plans to offer a voice for secular Muslims — in the spirit of France's influential Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions, or CRIF.

"Only viewing Muslims through a religious prism offers a wrong view of Muslims in general," founder Marouane Bouloudhnine told Le Figaro newspaper. "Today, the vast majority of French Muslims are non-practicing."

Just how many of France's estimated five to six million Muslims actually practice their faith is difficult to say — the government bans all official statistics based on religion or ethnic origin. But a number of surveys indicate that a solid chunk of Muslims here, possibly the majority, do not go to the mosque regularly or observe Ramadan, the holy month of fasting. France has the largest Islamic population in western Europe.