Regularizing foreign imams in France: Right to stay and definition of a “good imam” in a secular country

Special report: “Conflicts at work”
By Solenne Jouanneau

In November 1990, the French Ministry of the Interior unofficially promoted the creation of a particular surveillance procedure to check the visa applications of potential “Muslim clergymen” so as to influence the profile of foreign imams preaching in France. Based on the systematic analysis of the files of 300 imams, completed by the different departments engaged in that procedure (between 1991 and 1997), this article aims at analyzing the significance of the different forms of classification to distinguish “good” from “bad” imams along this political-administrative chain. This will lead us to examine the gap between the official discourse on foreign imams over the last 15 years and the actual administrative practices as regards the regularization process of this category of applicants.


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