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 Atlantic4 min read
The U.S. Is Abandoning Its Interests in Brexit
Gordon Sondland is a busy man. He recently testified to Congress about his role in President Donald Trump’s attempt to extort campaign dirt from the government of Ukraine. That testimony follows from Sondland’s previous deft maneuvering to insert him
The Atlantic3 min read
The Books Briefing: Trapped in a World That Uber Built
The seeds that could grow into the dystopias of tomorrow are being planted right now. Your weekly guide to the best in books.
The Atlantic4 min read
The Improbable Triumph of Boris Johnson
Two lessons emerged from the latest Brexit deal: The British prime minister garnered a concession his predecessor couldn’t, but the EU has still held the line.