There have been similar calls for boycotts in the past, but these came from informal Islamist groups. This is the first time that a state-recognised Muslim organisation calls for boycotting elections for religious reasons.
The Anâ-Muslim group and their website have existed for about three years. It became a state-recognised organisation a little over a year ago. There are about 100 members and sympathisers who have signed up online. The organisation is mainly targeted towards Muslim intellectuals and students.
The founders can be divided into two categories: some of them are close to jihadist movements but who believe Muslims living in France don’t have to wage jihad. Others are former jihadists who, today, believe that promoting their vision through legal means is the best solution. People from these two categories created Anâ-Muslim with the idea that they would work out in the open, and follow the law.
The organisation is led by two main figures: Abou Oussama
who serves as the religious leader, and Aissam Ait-Yahya
serves as the intellectual leader. Anâ-Muslim is mostly active in the Paris region, but also in some other cities like Marseille and Lyon. Their main activities are preaching and distributing pamphlets in the street. They don’t want anyone to associate them with groups like Forsane-Alizza [an organisation that the French authorities shut down in 2012 after members called for armed combat.]
To put it simply, the organisation’s members are people who are close to the jihadist Salafist ideology, but without the war aspect. This involves, among other things, refusing the “Taghout”, meaning any leaders who do not respect the precepts of Islam.