French Muslims Issue False Fatwa

Today in Paris, the Union of French Islamic Organizations (UOIF) issued a fatwa, or religious decree, against the participation of Muslims in the 10 days of rioting and arson in France. Typical of the mainstream media coverage of this action, is this report from Reuters:

“One of France's largest Islamic groups issued a fatwa against rioting on Sunday after officials suggested Muslim militants could be partly to blame for violent protests scarring poor neighbourhoods around the country.

“The Union of French Islamic Organisations (UOIF) quoted the Koran and the Prophet Mohammad to back up the religious edict condemning the disorder and destruction the unrest caused.

“Many rioters are of North African Arab and black African descent and assumed to be Muslims. Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy and other officials have hinted Islamist militants may be manipulating angry teenagers to defy the French state.”

Source: http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L06579517.htm

The press coverage implies that issuance of the fatwa should be taken as a good-faith effort by responsible Muslim leaders to defuse the situation and end the rioting and arson. However, even before the fatwa was officially announced, the Muslim community announced in public and in English, that it was false.

Here is how the website, IslamonLine.net, covered the same event, before the fatwa was issued:

“UOIF's chairman Lhaj Thami Breze cast doubt over the parties behind the accelerating violence.

“He accused several parties, including far-rightists and Zionist lobby, of fishing in the troubled water to 'smear the image of Muslims and Arabs.' "

“The Muslim leader said many of the incidents involving the burning of public properties remain ambiguous.

“ ‘The rioting, which started as a spontaneous reaction, is not like that anymore. Some parties are feeding these incidents,’ Breze charged.

“ ‘The perpetrators of such actions can never be Muslims,’ he averred.”

“The influential UOIF is one of the main groups comprising the umbrella French Council for the Muslim Religion (CFCM),” declares this website. And CFCM president Dalil Boubakeur met with French Prime Minister Dominique De Villepin on Saturday, with the purpose of “restoring peace.”

Source: http://www.islamonline.net/English/News/2005-11/06/article05.shtml

Since neither Jews nor far-rightists have any reason to change their conduct because of a fatwa issued by Muslims, it is the stated position of the Muslim leaders that it will have no influence on the continuing insurrections in France.

In short, the Muslim leaders expected, correctly, that the Western press would take the issuance of this fatwa seriously, as an effort to end the rioting and arson. However, the Muslims themselves consider it a false move, intended to make them seem responsible and law-abiding.

It is also interesting that Reuters says of the Arab and North African rioters that they are “assumed to be Muslims.” I guess that further investigative reporting is necessary to rule out the idea that they are Baptists, Catholics or Amish. Apparently the reporter and his or her editor either lack computers, or are unaware of IslamonLine.net

John_Armor@aya.yale.edu