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 Atlantic1 min readPolitics
Radio Atlantic: The Trauma at the Border
A migrant advocate shares the harrowing stories of asylum seekers and describes what the Trump administration’s new border policies could mean for these families.
The Atlantic4 min readPolitics
What If Everything Mueller Told Us Had Been New?
Trump’s critics expected much more from the special counsel’s report. But it would be foolish to shrug off what was already known.
The Atlantic6 min read
The Fight Between Hollywood Writers and Their Agents Isn’t New
The conflict comes at a time when economic realities are changing for both parties in the digital era, but it dates back to 1962.