An influential group representing French Muslims is proposing a tax on halal food to fund mosques and fight radicalisation in the wake of a seires of terror attacks.
Anouar Kbibech, president of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), outlined plans for a new foundation that would help reduce foreign benefactors amid concerns over extremism.
The idea has been supported by politicians on both the right and left, although there are doubts where such a tax could be implemented.
“The idea has existed since the CFCM was founded,” Mr Kbibech told French broadcaster BFMTV.
“We have reached the first step with the signing with of a religious framework in the CFCM’s halal charter, which defines the criteria of halal in France.
“In autumn we will discuss the second part, which is the financial contribution of halal organisations to worship.”
The money raised would go towards paying imams’ salaries and funding the construction and operation of mosques, which cannot receive state support under French law.
The proposal came after Manuel Valls, the French Prime Minister, called for a ban on foreign funding for Muslim places of worship amid concerns over extremism following a string of terror attacks.
“There needs to be a thorough review to form a new relationship with French Islam,” he said.
“We live in a changed era and we must change our behaviour. This is a revolution in our security culture…the fight against radicalisation will be the task of a generation.”
Nathalie Goulet, a French senator for Orne who conducted a report on the issue, said the creation of a central and transparent foundation was a priority but cast doubt on a halal tax.
“Legally, it is not possible to reduce a tax on a religious item,” she told Le Monde.
“And technically, a ‘halal tax’ would be impossible to implement because there is no unity around the concept of halal.
“What would be possible is that representatives of the religion themselves introduce a private fee for service at the time of slaughter, to be set by the community, collected and sent to the foundation.”
There has been continued controversy over the sale of halal food in France, with a supermarket in Colombes ordered to sell pork and alcohol or face closure this week.
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