After the recent attacks in France and Austria, which raised concerns about the terrorist threat at the European level; The proposal of the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, to establish a European institute responsible for training imams did not fall on the ears in Europe. Rather, it was met with disapproval and severe criticism.
The French newspaper Le Monde said that the European official’s proposal aims to “ensure that the message of tolerance and openness can be conveyed at the European level, to ensure that the idea of the primacy of civil law is accepted.”
The newspaper pointed out that the statement, which was cautious and not detailed, was met with a lot of lack of enthusiasm, and commented that the issue of Islam – although it clearly differs from “Islamism” – still appears to be a taboo in European institutions, so that one expert confirms that “the regime does not like the subject And he cited the refusal of former British European Commissioner Julian King to mention the word “Islam”.
Some influential Anglo-Saxon press in Brussels – according to Le Monde – does not seem to favor the idea of a European teaching of the Islamic religion, as it was strongly criticized by Politico and the Financial Times, and by its inspiration, anti-terrorism coordinator Gail de Kirchhoff, in addition to the French concept of secularism. .
Dutch experiments failed
The newspaper asked: What is going on in the mind of Michel? One of the defenders of the project responds that “conditions must be created for more diversity in order to interpret Islam in Europe, to ensure that this religion reconsiders itself and European values”, in order to distance the imams from the influence of foreign powers, such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Qatar.
The Netherlands – according to the newspaper – was the first to try to organize and finance the training of imams tasked with teaching the Qur’an “in a modern way.” .
The National Counter-Terrorism Service there warned of “Muslim community guards” who indicated that there was a “threat” to identity when re-publishing the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, and they also regularly threatened politicians of Maghreb origin who were trying to limit their influence.
In 2018, 3 researchers from the University of Amsterdam said that the Dutch experiments failed for several reasons. These include lack of confidence in public institutions, suspicion of trying to control religion, lack of contact with the divided believers’ base, and finally the Turkish Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) refused any cooperation.
The newspaper saw that the Dutch example showed that the universities responsible for the project had a problem with employment, and that many students left the courses on the way, and the graduates who completed the courses seemed to be unwilling to work in European mosques.
Belgium – to which Morocco, Turkey and Saudi Arabia sent many imams – recently showed interest in training, and a parliamentary committee considered it necessary after the 2016 attacks to establish an authentic path that includes mastering one of the national languages and knowing democratic values.