Muslim leaders in France have called for stringent new measures to help stem religious extremism in the country after the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris that left at least 130 people dead and hundreds more wounded. Representing about 2,500 mosques, the nation’s leading Muslim body has proposed licensing imams to preach and a new religious body to combat extremist propaganda, the Local reported.
"The time for action has come. The Muslims of France will play their part," said Anouar Kbibech, the president of the French Council for the Muslim Religion, according to the website.
The council said it would begin handing out permits after testing imams on adherence to French principles and theological knowledge. It would make religious leaders sign a charter that requires they “respect the laws of the republic.”
Kbibech also said the council would invest in an initiative to challenge extremist ideology by using religious arguments. He added that those responsible for the deadly attacks this month would "never have support of France's Muslims."
Mohammed Mraiziki, the secretary general of the Union of French Mosques, has called for even more action. He endorsed demands on the French government to expel "preachers of hate" and shut down their mosques. "The state must fight Daesh [aka the Islamic State group] and the imams in mosques must work hard to show what happened has nothing to do with Islam. Everyone has to take responsibility," Mrazika told the Local. Formerly known as either ISIL or ISIS, the Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the terrorist attacks in Paris Nov. 13.
Muslim political and religious leaders around the world have widely condemned the attacks. French Muslim organizations immediately came out in opposition to the extremist violence and said the attackers should not be called Muslims. They called on mosques across the country to espouse a similar stance.
"French Muslims want to proclaim their indestructible attachment to the republican pact and the values which have formed France," a French Muslim Council representative said after the attacks. "We, Muslims of France, can only insist on the need for national unity in opposing this misfortune which has afflicted us and which attacks indiscriminately."