Institute Trains Imams in Moderate "French Islam"

June 28, 2004

Source: Yahoo! News

Wire Service: Reuters

On June 28, 2004 Reuters reported on France's "training institute" for French imams: "Hidden in the Burgundy hills on the site of an old summer camp, the main institute to train Muslim prayer leaders in France hardly looks like an idea whose time has come. The tree-shaded campus center resembles a country inn and its mosque a converted garage. There are seven full-time faculty members for 160 students. The full course of study takes eight years -- two for Arabic, four for theology and two to memorize the Koran -- and the prospects for a paid job afterward are dismal. Even so, the half-dozen imams who graduate each year feel they are the wave of the future. The French government, eager to counter radical Islam preached by foreign imams, has begun pressing for prayer leaders born and trained in France. 'The training of imams must match the requirements of the republic,' Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin declared last month in urging the 5-million-strong Muslim minority -- Europe's largest -- to develop a moderate 'French Islam.'"