Even the winner risks ending up among the losers in France’s Muslim council election on Sunday as the organisation meant to represent Islam here is torn apart by rivalries, boycotts and bitter attacks. Incumbent Mohammed Moussaoui will be returned as head of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), but a boycott by the two rival Muslim federations competing with his Rally of French Muslims (RMF) group makes the victory a hollow one.
The campaign has also fuelled the ethnic tensions crippling French Islam, which is split among factions backed by Algeria, Morocco and Turkey and others who oppose any meddling from the Muslim countries that they or their forefathers left behind.
“This CFCM will start off an empty shell and continue to run on empty,” Kamel Kabtane, rector of the Grand Mosque of Lyon, told Lyon Capitale magazine after announcing he was boycotting the election. “It risks dying a quiet death.”
The curious voting method used, which allocates electoral college delegates to each federation according to the total floor space of its mosques around the country, was the reason Moussaoui’s rivals gave for the boycott.