PARIS: A halal tax has been floated in France to fight back against the most extreme interpretations of Islam.
It would help pay for a new organisation capable of countering the proliferation of Salafist discourse on social media.
The proposal emerged in a report publishing by France’s Montaigne Institute think tank on Monday.
It looked at the spread of Islamism: the idea that society should be organised to give a role to religion in the exercise of power.
The report, entitled the Islamist Factory, argues that funding and organisation are needed for moderate French Muslims that are “often silent, integrated and who live their faith without suspecting the state of wanting to undermine it”.
“To mobilise them organisations and funding are needed,” the report says. “There is a lot of money circulating in France today in connection with Islam: donations, pilgrimages and the halal market constitute an important but poorly-organised and absolutely unregulated Islamic economy.
“An organisation made up of independent personalities is necessary to provide concrete services aimed at improving the situation to collect small sums from each act of Islamic consumption and to reinvest this money in the general interest of Muslims and France.”
There is no suggestion the French state — which is famously secular — would have any role in collecting the proposed tax on halal, which is meat from an animal killed in a way that is demanded under Islamic law.
Kamel Kabtane, rector of the mosque at Lyon told Euronews that the suggestion was impractical:
“How would you raise this tax, how would you organise it, how would you structure and redistribute it?”
“With a bit of trust, Muslims today are capable of organising themselves of funding themselves and finding the necessary means, a Halal tax isn’t going to save French Islam.”
The report also called for Arabic to be taught more in French schools, claiming the number of pupils learning it had halved. This makes it easier for Islamists to attract young people to their mosques by promising to teach them the language, the dossier added.
Kabtane said he felt that mosques did a good job of introducing students to the Arabic language, giving them a base which could be developed in schools.
There is thought to be between five and six million Muslims in France but the country’s secularism means official data is unavailable.___EuroNews