Rabat – NGOs and associations must not “serve as shields” for people who have a “project of political Islam,” declared the French Secretary of State in charge of Youth, Gabriel Attal, on Tuesday, February 25.
“I notice that some people, who have a political project to impose standards that are incompatible with the values of the [French] Republic but based on a misguided conception of religion, are using the status of associations to implement the project of political Islam,” denounced Attal on French television channel CNews.
Associations are non-governmental organizations that benefit from legal status under a law adopted by France in 1901. The legal status allows associations and NGOs to benefit from several advantages, such as tax exemption.
“I made proposals to the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister to thwart [Islamism] projects,” added the French official.
According to Attal, France “must supervise the opening of associations better, especially when their services target minors.”
Authorities should also “better punish” associations promoting Islamism, and “support” those defending “the values of the Republic.”
Associations that teach Arabic lessons “aim sometimes to attract children and families and recruit them [for Islamism agendas],” he added.
In 2019, French authorities closed five unofficial religious schools functioning under an association’s legal status. Authorities also prevented 27 similar institutions from opening, revealed Attal.
The French official’s statement comes amid the raging debate in France about the rise of Islamism. The increasing numbers of terrorist attacks in Europe are also adding fuel to the debate.
According to recent statistics from the French Ministry of the Interior, France recorded an increase of 130% of racist incidents between 2018 and 2019. The number of attacks against Muslims increased by 54%.