The Atlantic

Should France Have Its Own Version of Islam?

With Marine Le Pen headed to the second round of elections, a top imam says he understands why some voters fear Muslims.
Source: Christian Hartmann / Reuters

With France’s first round of voting complete, far-right candidate Marine Le Pen is among the final two contenders for the presidency, along with centrist Emmanuel Macron. Given how often Le Pen invoked the specter of Islamic fundamentalism throughout her campaign, one might expect French Muslims to be worried about the potential for her to win the May 7 runoff.

But Tareq Oubrou, the popular imam of Bordeaux’s Grand Mosque and a prominent theologian, told me he is not concerned. Nor does he blame those elements in French society that harbor fears of Islam. The morning after the results were announced, he spoke about “legitimate fears” among the French, and seemed to put the burden on Muslims to make Islam more compatible with France and its strong flavor of state secularism, known as laïcité.

Oubrou, who was born in Morocco, is a leading advocate of progressive Islam. Beloved among France’s political elite, he preaches in French as well as in Arabic, critiques the veil or headscarf, insists that Islam is compatible with French ideals at the deepest level, and shrugs off the death

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic7 min readPolitics
Leaks Are Changing How Diplomats Talk
In the era of WikiLeaks, hostile-state cyberwarfare, and leaks such as the Darroch incident, the diplomatic cable’s primacy is being threatened, changing the way foreign policy is being conducted.
The Atlantic7 min read
The Future of the City Is Childless
A few years ago, I lived in a walkup apartment in the East Village of New York. Every so often descending the stairway, I would catch a glimpse of a particular family with young children in its Sisyphean attempts to reach the fourth floor. The mom wo
The Atlantic5 min readPolitics
Why Donald Trump’s Racist Language Isn’t Debatable
Whether the president’s tweets about four Democratic congresswomen of color are bigoted cannot be decided solely by dictionary definitions.