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GROUPEMENT ISLAMIQUE EN FRANCE. In the 1980s Islam came to the center of political debates in France and in Europe generally. Many organizations were established by Muslim intellectuals or students of Arab origin in order to awaken Islamic feelings among adults and ensure the religious education of children. In some neighborhoods where North African immigrant families are concentrated, housing projects or residences for immigrants have come to be used for collective prayers or Qur’anic classes. On a national level, federations of Islamic groups such as the Association des Etudiants Islamiques en France (AEIF, Association of Islamic Students in France) were already emerging in the early 1960s. This organization’s aim was to bring together Muslim students of different nationalities, although most of its membership consisted of Maghribis living in France.

In 1979 a student of Tunisian origin broke from the AEIF and formed his own group, the Groupement Islamique en France (GIF), in Valenciennes in the north of France. Its goal was to expand Islamic preaching to immigrant workers influenced by the Tablighi Jama’at a transnational organization of South Asian origin (Kepel, 1987). Intellectually influenced by Islamist currents in the Middle East, such as that of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which are more politically engaged than the Tablighi Jama`at, the aim of the GIF is, as Kepel puts it, “a theoretical and practical reeducation by sermons, conferences and social structure that will give a foretaste of what Islamic life will be like under the shari`ah.” The organization’s headquarters moved to Paris in 1981.

The GIF is officially subsidized by donations from members. The publication and distribution of an Islamic calendar and such activities as annual congresses on Islam in France, conferences and discussions, an Islamic book exhibit, and the pilgrimage to Mecca are also sources of income. Besides purely Islamic ventures, the leaders and members engage in many cultural and social activities. For example, sports have become a major interest; also, in order to create and reinforce solidarity among Muslim workers, members are encouraged to make regular visits to those who are in hospitals and prisons.

In 1986 the GIF became a member association of the Union des Organisations Islamiques de France (UOIF), created in 1983. This umbrella organization joins forty to fifty member associations of Maghribi origin. They share the ideology of Islamic assertiveness and a commitment to islamization, in contrast to the Federation Nationale des Musulmans de France (FNMF). This latter group works for a French Islam. Its leaders emphasize their Islamic identity, but argue the compatibility of Islam with French republican values and negotiate with public authorities for a better integration of Muslims into French society. Both the UOIF and the FNMF are members of CORIF (Conseil Religieux de l’Islam en France), a state organization created in 1990 by Minister of Internal Affairs Pierre Joxe to serve as official representative and intermediary of Muslims in France.

[See also Federation Nationale des Musulmans de France; France; and Union des Organisations Islamiques de France.]


Diop, M., and Riva Kastoryano. “Le mouvement associatif islamique en Ile de France.” Revue Europeenne des Migrations Internationales 7.3 (1991): 91-119.

Kepel, Gilles. Les banlieues de l’Islam. Paris, 1987.

Leveau, Remy, and Gilles Kepel, eds. Les musulmans dans la societe francaise. Paris, 1988.


Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/groupement-islamique-en-france/

  • writerPosted On: June 8, 2013
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