“The Strasbourg mosque affair or the concordat of discord”

9:00 a.m., March 28, 2021

It is not easy to be a member of the LREM majority and to remain consistent. It took barely more than a month for the wobbly edifice of the bad law, badly named, “reinforcing respect for the principles of the Republic” (also known as the separatism law) to crack and for the hypocrisy of its members. promoters, the Minister of the Interior and the Minister Delegate in charge of citizenship, does not come to light. The Strasbourg “affair” has been acting for a few days as a powerful indicator of the government tartufferie.

The mayor EELV of Strasbourg and his municipal majority voted, last Monday, in principle a subsidy of 2.5 million euros to Millî Görüs, a very conservative Muslim association of Turkish persuasion, for the construction of a new mosque in the Meinau district.

I consider it unacceptable for public money to go to the construction of any place of worship

For my part, I consider that it is not acceptable that public money goes to the construction of any place of worship. Of course, in Alsace, this is nothing new. In Strasbourg itself, the city has paid 22 million for places of worship since 2008, all terms of office, according to the current mayor, elected in 2020. The previous municipality, led by the PS, participated in particular in financing the construction of ‘a first large mosque in this city, inaugurated at the time by Manuel Valls then Prime Minister, and another great hypocrite in this story. Various communities in Alsace and Moselle – including departmental councils headed by the right – do the same. Which does not take anything away from the problem.

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“But it is permitted by law,” I am told. The law of the Republic? No, not exactly. If the Strasbourg municipal council can vote a subsidy to a religion, it is because the great secular law of 1905 which separated the Churches from the State, does not apply in the Bas-Rhin, the Haut-Rhin and in Moselle. Because these three departments were German from 1871 to 1918, and a reactionary and clerical majority refused to extend the Law of Separation to them when they became French again, the Napoleonic Concordat is maintained until today in these territories.

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Parish priests, pastors and rabbis are public officials financed by the taxes of all French people for a total of nearly 65 million euros each year. Local authorities continue to be able to distribute public money to religions, not without electoral patronage. This privilege maintained since Napoleon for the Catholic, Reformed, Lutheran and Jewish cults is today somewhat extended to Islam, for the sake of fairness, I am told. This does not change the seriousness of the violation of the principle of separation of Church and State.

A simple measure would solve the problem at once: extend the law of 1905 to the departments where it does not apply.

A government anxious to “consolidate” the republican principles would seize the case of Strasbourg to take the simple measure which would solve the problem suddenly: extend the law of 1905 to the departments where it does not apply. Its article 2 states that “the Republic does not recognize, pay or subsidize any religion” and consequently prohibits any public funding of religions.

But it is quite the opposite that the government is aiming for if we consider the outraged demonstrations of ministers Darmanin and Schiappa for what they are: monuments of secular hypocrisy. The Minister of the Interior demands from the administrative justice the annulment of the deliberation of the municipal council of Strasbourg on the grounds that the beneficiary association is linked to a foreign state and that its leaders refuse to sign the charter of Islam in France drafted at the initiative of his ministry. It is therefore not the breach of the principle of separation of Churches and State that worries the minister but that the Muslim religious association does not comply with a charter which has no binding legal character. It is not the distribution of public money to a religion that irritates Gérald Darmanin, but that the cult does not submit to the conditions of the minister.

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Let’s be clear. Like any secular activist, I have no sympathy for the Islamist government of Mr. Erdogan, which imposes an obscurantist project on the Turkish people, jails its democratic opponents and human rights defenders, and attacks our Kurdish allies while they are fighting against Daesh. If Erdogan manipulates religious or cultural associations in France, as is likely, his maneuvers must be thwarted: it is a matter of intelligence, police and justice. The law does not lack arguments to act on established facts and not simple allegations.

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But we can clearly see how this lamentable Strasbourg affair risks ending, the city having unfortunately, today, the right for it. Secularism will emerge weakened. The irresponsible people who dream of extending the debt restructuring system to the whole of the country will even be strengthened. This is the case of some LREM deputies: one of them, elected in Alsace, replied to me during a debate, that he wanted nothing less than the extension of the concordat to the whole country. ! One can imagine the confusion if, in each commune of France, the municipality had to judge what is a good or a bad religious obedience and who deserves to be financed or not. What a step back! This is to say the confusion that reigns in the ranks of the majority. Note that Madame Le Pen’s friends had also violently attacked me to defend the Concordat. Everyone will appreciate the anti-secular alliances between elected LREM and RN.

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Mr. Darmanin will have fed incoherently, once again to exist in the media, a sad controversy

In the end, Mr. Darmanin will have fed incoherently, once again to exist in the media, a sad controversy. Madame Schiappa, for her part, thinks to take advantage of casting anathema for Islamo-leftism on Alsatian environmentalists. Small political maneuvers and great secular hypocrisy!

If the government were sincere, it would implement a simple solution: the repeal of the concordatory provisions in the territories where the separation of Church and State does not yet apply. This is what the Insoumis deputies are proposing. So, the question of financing the construction of places of worship with public money would no longer arise, neither for the Millî Görüs mosque in Strasbourg, nor for any building of any religion in Alsace-Moselle, like that. fortunately is already the case in the rest of France. Without a concordat, Erdogan’s friends could neither solicit nor receive public money.

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But obviously, solving this problem is not what ministers Darmanin and Schiappa are looking for. Unmasked, they appear today for what they are: the best friends of the concordat system, who want to put all religions, starting with Islam, under the control of the State, to meddle in their organization and their granting public funding in exchange. This has nothing to do with secularism and the law of 1905.

Colleagues from the majority, if you are attached to secularism, you are not obliged to follow the provocations of adventurist ministers who only blow in the veils of the extreme right. Let us defend freedom of conscience, freedom of worship and the separation of Church and State. Let us repeal the Concordat once and for all!

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