Salafist group calls for boycott of French local elections
Issued on: Modified:
Via its website, social networks and pamphlets, the organisation Anâ-Muslim (“I am Muslim”) is calling for the boycott of France’s local elections. Our Observer tells us more about who is behind this Salafist group.
"Allah is our only legislator: no to lawmakers and mayors". Pamphlet byAnâ-Muslim.
The organisation Anâ-Muslim (“I am Muslim”) is calling for a boycott of France’s local elections via its website, social network and brochures. Our Observer tells us more about who is behind this Salafist group.
Anâ-Muslim is a nonprofit organisation recognised by the French state. Its members share their vision of Islam on the organisation’s website, on its Facebook and Twitter pages, and on YouTube. A few days ago, Anâ-Muslim called on Muslims to boycott French municipal elections, which will take place on March 23 and 30. They explain this decision by using various religious arguments and by saying that for a Muslim person, “voting is an act of submission … while abstaining is an act of resistance”.
Des membres d'Anâ-Muslim brandissant le tract.
On its website, the organisation explains that this campaign is aimed at Muslim people between 18 and 40 years old. They argue that refusing to participate in French politics is a way to “preserve their faith”: “Voting means recognising the power of men on earth and giving them absolutely sovereignty to create their own laws that have nothing to do with Islam.” The organisation’s goal, as described in their mission statement, is to “teach Islam to Muslims … because Muslims are the only ones who can control their destiny … and contribute to Islam’s resurgence so that humanity may be saved”.
"Fitna (association) is a crime graver than murder".
Contacted by FRANCE 24, a member of Anâ-Muslim said the organisation could not grant interviews because all its members were busy working on the boycott campaign.
“This is the first time that a Muslim organisation calls for boycotting elections for religious reasons”
Omar (not his real name) is an expert on Islamist movements in France.
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.
"À l'époque du Prophète Mahomet le principe d'élection a prévalu"
Contacted by FRANCE 24, Dalil Boubaker, the rector of the Great Mosque of Paris, shared his thoughts on the organisation:
“Anâ-Muslim is an epiphenomenon. It has no real weight. Most Muslims in France – the vast majority of whom are involved in public and political life – won’t pay any attention to their call for a boycott. We live in a democracy, and it’s obvious that not participating in elections would be counterproductive for the Muslim community. In fact, the call for a boycott goes against the precepts of Islam. When the Prophet Mohammad died, his companions gathered and voted for his successor Abu Bakr, the first caliph. The Great Mosque of Paris and the French Council of Muslim Faith encourages all Muslims in France to take part in the local elections, and all elections.”
Post written with FRANCE 24 journalist Wassim Nasr (@SimNasr).