The end of the system of "detached imams" that the French President envisages, risks causing Turkey to lose some of its influence in France. What about elsewhere in Europe?
"Detached imams" are imams that are paid by foreign countries to practice on French soil. The system is governed by bilateral agreements between France and these countries, including Turkey, which represents 151 imams (half of the total number of "detached imams" in France), about 65% of whom are Turkish civil servants.
Austria managed to end this system, France can do it too. However, Turkey is trying to short-circuit this new trend in Europe, to train local imams by creating an "international theology program", through which young Turkish people from several European countries are brought to Istanbul, trained and sent back as imams in their respective countries in Europe. This program has not quite proven successful so far, because the large majority of these young Euro-Turks do not necessarily want to become imams.
But another very important issue remains: that of teachers sent by Turkey to teach Turkish language and civilization in French schools. France still refuses to open a Turkish language and civilization CAPES (the French teachers’ entry exam), even though French universities could train these teachers very easily, and thus have some control over the influence of Turkey in the territory. This stance from the French is thus puzzling. Imams and teachers are two pillars of foreign intervention in France today (namely Turkish), while both bodies could easily originate from France.
Everywhere in Europe, Euro-Turks have the capacity, knowledge and diplomas to become religious and educational staff. These Euro-Turks can share the experience of multiple belonging to Turkishness and their respective countries, without needing to be organically dependent on Turkey.
Copyright : handout / TURKISH PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE / AFP