Morocco: When Sarkozy “Proposes” a French Version of Ramadan

Mini Croissant by The Fernwoodian

Followers of Moroccan blogger Ahmed, who writes on Alash? [Ar] (Why?), know he is fond of the art of satire. Earlier this month he published a post about a supposed announcement by the French President Nicolas Sarkozy [Ar] of a series of measures to “encourage” French Muslims to follow a French version of this year's Ramadan.

The blogger writes quoting his imaginary Sarkozy:

اخواني المواطنين، المسلم الفرنسي هو فرنسي قبل أن يكون مسلما وعليه فإن قهوة الصباح مع الهلالية (كرواصون) تقليد فرنسي عريق لا يجب التخلي عليه. لذا وانطلاقا من فتاوى الأزهر حول فقه الأقليات فانه يجوز للمسلم الفرنسي الصائم ان يبدأ صباحه بقهوة مع هلالية كغيره من أبناء الشعب الفرنسي على الساعة الثامنة قبل انطلاق العمل.

Fellow citizens,

The French Muslim is French before being a Muslim. Therefore, the old French tradition of early morning breakfast with coffee and croissant should not be abandoned [during the month of Ramadan]. And based on fatwas (religious edicts) from Al-Azhar University and their jurisprudence concerning [Muslim] minorities, it is permissible for fasting French Muslims to start the day with the morning coffee and croissant like all other French people do, at 8 A.M. before leaving for work.

Ahmed's Sarkozy goes on exhorting Muslims to embrace his brand of Islam:

اخواني المواطنين، اللغة الفرنسية تجمعنا والمسلم الفرنسي كغيره من المواطنين يجب أن يقرأ كتابه المقدس (القرآن) باللغة الفرنسية. لذا أدعوا كل إمام فرنسي ان يقرأ القرآن باللغة الفرنسية، ويصلي باللغة الفرنسية وهذه ضرورة ليصبح الاسلام دينا فرنسيا.

Fellow citizens,

We share the French language, therefore the French Muslim, like his fellow French citizens, must read his holy book (the Koran) in French. So I invite all imams in France to read the Koran and pray in French so that Islam becomes a French religion.

What started as a joke is now being peddled around Middle Eastern blogs and online forums. Seeing his article being presented as a factual account, with no reference to the source, the blogger updated his original post writing a disclaimer and warning that “this article is a satirical account of an event that did not happen. The objective was to discuss the relationship between Sarkozy […] and the Muslim minority in France.”

The “story” even surfaced on [Ar]. Ahmed comments:

وزاد الطين بلة حين نشر موقع سي إن إن العربي مقتطفا من التدوينة دون التوضيح بأنه مقال ساخر. وأصبحت بعض المواقع “الجادة” تنقل القصة وتضيف إليها “حسبما أورد موقع سي إن إن”. وهذا أمر خطير جدا!!!!!

And to make matters even worse, CNN Arabic website posted an excerpt from the blog post without making clear that the article was ironic. Some “serious” websites are now picking up on he “story” citing “the CNN website” [as the original source], which is very dangerous!!!!!

The Egyptian group, the Muslim Brotherhood [Ar] published an article on its website [Ar] condemning what it calls “an attack on the Muslim faith,” calling upon “scholars and rulers of Arab and Muslim regimes to confront these trivialities, and to prosecute Sarkozy for his infringement on freedom of religion.”

A number of blogs, online news websites and forums seem to have also taken Ahmed's post at face value. One example among many is [Ar], an Iraqi online forum that published the following:

أصدر العلامة «ساركوزي» مفتي الديار الباريسية فتواه السوبر مودرن حيث أجاز سماحته لمسلمي فرنسا بتناول القهوة مع الكرواسون في الساعات الأولى من صباح أيام شهر رمضان المبارك حتى لا تنقص مواطنتهم شهرا كاملا عن بقية المواطنين الفرنسيين!

Master Sarkozy, the Mufti of Paris, issued a super modern fatwa, allowing French Muslims to take a coffee with a croissant in the early morning hours during the holy month of Ramadan, so as not to belittle their citizenship … !

Now it seems that the printed press as well is picking up on the story. Jordanian newspaper Adustour publishes an article [Ar] at its back pages titled: “French Ramadan à la Sarkozy.” The Moroccan daily al-Alam publishes the story on its front page [Ar] under the title: “President Sarkozy presents a French version on how to fast and pray during the holy month of Ramadan.” Kuwaiti newspaper al-Dar also publishes an article on its “Truth” column [Ar] titling: “When President Sarkozy performs the fast.”

Although Ahmed says he's shocked by the plagiarism and distortions of his original satire, he says he is not against freedom of speech. However, Ahmed sends out “some advise” [Ar] to those who pick up news and information on the Internet. He writes:

1- إقرأ الخبر أو المقال مرتين على الأقل قبل أن تعيد نشره
2- أذكر المصدر وأضف رابطا له
3- أخبر القراء عن المعلومات الخاطئة التي قد تكون نشرتها

وكل ذلك يمكن جمعه في كلمة واحدة: الأمانة

1 – Read news or articles at least twice before you hit publish
2 – Mention the source and add a link to it
3 – Inform readers about the mistakes that may occur

In other words: Be honest.

Photo by The Fernwoodian available on Flickr and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.


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