On Tiktok, the new wave of Muslim influencers

On Tiktok, the new wave of Muslim influencers

At 27, Charlène had never crossed the doors of the Lannion mosque (Côtes-d'Armor) until day of November 2021, where she decided to go there "in secret".After months of hesitation, she ended up contacting the imam to tell him about her desire to convert."This desire came during the first confinement, after a difficult period," she says on the phone.

Today a practicing Muslim, this bakery employee, not baptized but educated in Catholic establishments, says it is appreciated by the "frame" offered by Islam.Charlène prays daily, eats halal and no longer drinks alcohol."I am the rules that seem to me the fairest, which are most suitable for my personality," she said."But I can't imagine stop celebrating Christmas, or my little boy's birthdays.I know it's not good, but we all do nonsense!" " Not good " ?Where did she hear that celebrating a birthday was a sin?The answer is in two words: on Tiktok.

→ Maintenance.Conversion to Islam: "how parents react"

If Charlène converted, it is first thanks to Redazere, a "tiktokeur", as we call the creators of content on this Chinese social network for sharing short videos.Green eyes, Claire Beard, this 26 -year -old Algerian established in Quebec publishes ultra -skills videos every day in which he provides "reminders" (messages to remember the faithful a point of theology or practice), interspersed with images of the seriesKorean Squid Game or her holidays in Mexico.

According to the mood of the day and the questions formulated in comments, this charismatic young man indicates what invocation pronounced in the approach of an examination, he advocates charity, launches participative challenges - as citing the most names of Allah inThirty seconds -, or says that listening to music and looking at women is not allowed in Islam.

"On Tiktok there are also Christian accounts," continues Charlène.But it was the Muslims who challenged me.Especially Redazere.It's his personality, his energy ... he is captivating.To show her her gratitude, she published three days after her conversion a message under her last video: "You made me want to convert me, thank you very much.The comment was liked 2,685 times: a community sample that the tiktokeur agglomer.

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With 1.7 million subscribers, he is undoubtedly the first French -speaking religious influencer of Tiktok.Which, given the dazzling dynamism of the application - the most downloaded in the world for two years - is not far from making it the most powerful religious influencer in the Francophonie.

Hegemonic speech

Redazere is representative, in form and discourse, of a new generation of Muslim influencers that has emerged on Tiktok since 2020.Ilhan.St, understand your dinner, know Islam, Hicham R2F, Abuayahtv, Ismaël Abou Nour ... Under these pseudonyms, we discover young men more or less trained in religion, not necessarily imams, but who share the same perfect knowledge of codes andThe aesthetics of this social network.Ten seconds at one minute, their videos cut for virality mix sermons, humor lines, staging, references to pop culture, and borrowed from the language of personal development.

→ Tribune.Islam on Tiktok: "The Koran calls to use its reason!»»

Behind this modernity in tone and form, we find in most of them a rigid, even rigorous discourse, on what is halal and haram (lawful and illicit), in everyday life or in relations, in particular withthe women.If their degree of conservatism varies, they form, by dint of quoting and responding, an ecosystem whose literal bias in the approach of Islamic tradition is today hegemonic on Tiktok.

Thus, Redazere considers that shaving the beard is haram (illicit), as well as "watching women" or kissing before marriage."Kissing or hugs to his opposite sex cousin" is "not halal".Relations outside marriage are illicit and "move away from God".Wearing the veil is an obligation.Celebrate Christmas, even without believing it, just as putting a tree at home, is prohibited.In the New Year, the influencer recommends not doing the midnight countdown "so as not to look like non-believers", which he describes as "koufar" (disbelievers) in a comment.

« Salafisme mainstream»»

Difficile, en entendant pareils propos, de ne pas penser à la polémique soulevée le 1er janvier par le très populaire rappeur Gims, qui avait demandé à ses fans de ne plus lui souhaiter la bonne année, au motif que les compagnons de Mohammed, le prophète de l’islam, ne fêtaient pas le Nouvel An.Difficult also to affix a common name on these speeches.If the experts joined by the cross agree to qualify them as Salafists, they notice a dilution of this literalist current as it meets a wider audience.

Sur TikTok, la nouvelle vague des influenceurs musulmans

"We are no longer at all in this really hard salafism and sometimes close to jihadism that started to win in the 2000s," notes Benjamin Hoduyé, associate researcher at the Montaigne Institute."Today, what works is a mainstream salafism, less radical, capable of joining other conservative currents, and carried by people who know how to adapt their speech.Thus, if they occasionally come up against the community rules of Tiktok (the Redazere account was temporarily suspended in November 2021), it is extremely rare that these words fall under the law, as was the case for an imamde Villiers-le-Bel (Val-d'Oise) sentenced in 2020 for "apology for terrorism".

The authorities are nevertheless concerned about this trivialization of Salafist theses on the favorite social network of young people."We find a formidably effective Islamist and separatist logic, which aims to separate the community from the believers from the community of" disbelievers "," says Christian Gravel, secretary general of the interministerial committee for prevention of delinquency and radicalization, which has been animating sinceOne year a republican counter-discourse unit (UCDR) aimed at thwarting separatist and extremist remarks.With reduced success.

→ to read.The government multiplies mosques closings deemed "separatists"

For the time being, only 6,000 people are subscribed to the "Republic_gouv" account on Tiktok."We are aware that our action will remain limited in the absence of an increased accountability of digital platforms, and a mobilization of civil society," adds Christian Gravel.Joined by the cross, Tiktok claims to ensure strict compliance with "its community rules" (read the benchmarks opposite).

« Allah est le plus savant»»

An account like Ilhan's.St allows to realize how these online speeches have evolved.With 469,000 subscribers on Tiktok, this 20 -year -old young man with creamy smile and round glasses is a full cardboard by presenting from his room the invocations to pronounce "when you are sad" or "when you are faced with a difficult situation".Friend of gloomy days and rainy mornings, he insists in his reminders on "benevolence" and "motivation", and invites his subscribers to think "always positive".

This smooth discourse sprinkled with hearts and emojis, however, coats more stiff postures, such as the ban on music or the meeting between young people to marry without the supervision of a third party."As Muslims (...), we cannot afford to look like non-Muslims," he launches in response to a critical commentary."Islam is a way of life.And don't forget: moderate Islam does not exist.The Islam that we live is Islam of the An-Nabi era (the Prophet), and we cannot afford to modify it."Asked about the existence of dinosaurs by a subscriber, the tiktokeur boots it, arguing that there are" more essential things to know ", and that" Allah is the most learned ".

→ Explanation.Islam, faith, practice or identity?

More professorial, Hamid S., 37, is the face of understanding your dinner (the Arabic word dîn is generally translated by "religion"), which brings together more than 500,000 subscribers.This former imam trained in the religious schools of Morocco and Mauritania arrived on Tiktok in 2020 and made sketches on the religious questions of the daily life his trademark.A staging motivated by the difficulty of capturing the public's attention of the public on this social network.

"In just one minute, you have to make the message visualize and understand," explains Hamid S.on the phone."It is totally different from Youtube where there is more worked content, intended for a more educated audience.Here it is a young audience, who does not really have a religious basis but many false beliefs.On Tiktok, this is the basics.Introduction.»»

« Euphémisation de l’apostasie»»

To do this, Hamid S. et les quatre autres personnes qui animent « Comprends Ton Dîne»» privilégient une approche raide de la tradition islamique. Les fêtes d’anniversaire sont déconseillées car « basées sur des fondements païens qui sont en contradiction avec notre religion»».

Une autre vidéo le montre décrochant un poster de l’équipe de France de football, au motif qu’il serait « interdit en islam d’accrocher toute sorte de photo qui serait composée de créatures humaines ou animales»». En matière de football toujours : porter un maillot sur lequel figure une croix, comme celui du FC Barcelone, « n’est pas autorisé en islam, tout simplement car la croix du Barça est un symbole religieux»».

On the phone, Hamid S.denies all radicalism. « Je suis un pédagogue, je ne prends pas position, je ne qualifie personne d’égaré»», affirme-t-il, bien qu’il ait employé ce terme à propos des confréries soufies. Il se dit mal compris lorsque l’on mentionne une vidéo dans laquelle il avait suggéré que les musulmans de France seraient « punis»» pour s’être « trop intégrés»», et qu’ils feraient peut-être mieux d’arrêter de voter.

« J’ai simplement dit que je constatais qu’on s’est impliqués dans la politique mais qu’on reste stigmatisés»», se défend-il. Quelques jours après cette interview, La Croix a constaté que la vidéo n’était plus disponible sur son compte TikTok, de même qu’une autre pastille dans laquelle il qualifiait l’assimilation à la société française d’« euphémisation de l’apostasie»».

→ Debate.Can the Koran be interpreted?

In addition to these new faces, we also find on Tiktok faces already known.These are the "Imams 2.0»», prédicateurs aujourd’hui trentenaires ou quadragénaires, passés pour certains par le salafisme, et qui ont acquis à partir de 2010 une popularité considérable en s’impliquant sur Facebook et en publiant leurs prêches sur YouTube.

Ces vidéos réapparaissent sur TikTok, débitées en tronçons de quelques dizaines de secondes par des « comptes de rappels»» parfois très suivis (jusqu’à 1,1 million d’abonnés pour le plus important identifié par La Croix), qui recyclent des vidéos déjà existantes sur YouTube, ou diffusent des hadiths incrustés sur des paysages de rêve, au rythme de chants islamiques.

«It’s Islam Kindergarten»»

But although they constitute a permanent background noise on Tiktok, the imams 2.0 remain paradoxically on the sidelines of the renewal that operates there.The three most popular French imams on YouTube have all criticized this social network where dance and music videos are omnipresent. « C’est pas normal de voir quelqu’un qui fait des rappels se mettre torse nu !»», s’offusquent l’imam de Brest Rachid Eljay et l’imam de Roubaix Abdelmonaïm Boussenna, suivis respectivement par 2,5 millions et 800 000 abonnés sur Facebook, et manifestement déroutés par les nouveaux codes qui s’expriment sur l’application.

« TikTok, c’est fait pour qu’au bout de quatre-cinq vidéos tu tombes sur quelque chose de catastrophique, qui brûle les yeux et le cœur»», tacle le très conservateur imam Nader Abou Anas dans une vidéo YouTube de septembre 2021.Only of the three to maintain an official account on Tiktok, there is no original content, but fragments of sermons already published on other platforms.

→ Analysis.Muslim quadras in search of spirituality and action

« Perso, je suis largué»», soupire un imam très suivi sur les autres réseaux sociaux.Above all, he deplores the difficulty of conveying a nuanced message on a platform designed for videos of ten seconds."My audience is made up of inserted adults who want to deepen their knowledge," he continues.On Tiktok, the accounts that walk bear a simplistic, guilty and community discourse, but with an emotional rope and a format that speak to young people, even very young.It’s Islam Kindergarten.»»

« À cause de tes vidéos, j’ai peur»»

In fact, just read the comments under the videos to convince yourself of the youth of the audience.Adolescents are particularly sensitive to these discourses which offer totalizing explanations and play on guilt.Many college students are worried: how to fulfill the five daily prayers despite school obligations?How if parents drink alcohol?Can we continue to read manga?

Sous une vidéo dans laquelle Redazere affirme qu’il est « super grave»» d’effectuer seulement quatre prières sur cinq, un adolescent a écrit : « Reda, à cause de tes vidéos j’ai peur.I am only 13 years old and I find (...) that I earn too much sins, that I do not do enough for Allah.»»

→ Analysis.Against separatism, the government mobilizes the entire public service

The capacity to broadcast videos on Tiktok is all the greater since it is not necessary to seek content to see it appear. Le fil « Pour Toi»» du réseau social suggère en effet constamment aux utilisateurs de nouvelles vidéos sélectionnées par l’algorithme sur la base de leurs interactions précédentes.

"Before, you had to be poured into Salafism to get these contents, comments Damien Saverot, doctoral student at the École normale supérieure.Today, we have influencers do not openly claiming Salafism who disseminate him with people who do not know him, claiming that it is simply Islam.This contributes to imposing Salafism as a standard of reference in the collective imagination.»»

Good practice repository

La jeune convertie de Lannion, Charlène, avait découvert les contenus de l’influenceur Redazere dans ses « Pour Toi»» au printemps 2020. « Je ne pense pas que je serais allée chercher ces vidéos par moi-même»», reconnaît-elle.Same thing for Talia (modified first name), law student in Saint-Etienne (Loire).

Élevée dans une famille musulmane originaire d’Algérie, cette jeune femme de 20 ans n’a pas découvert l’islam sur TikTok, mais aime y recevoir les rappels percutants, conçus par et pour des jeunes comme elle, qui l’aident à « garder un lien avec la religion»». Elle apprécie tout particulièrement les vidéos de « Comprends Ton Dîne»», qui lui apprennent, dit-elle, comment distinguer les croyances religieuses des superstitions maghrébines, « comme quand on me disait que c’était pas bien de se doucher le soir»».

→ Tribune.About the veil: what the Koran really says

Talia has not adopted all the prescriptions set out by the influencer. Elle ne remet cependant pas en question leur validité comme référentiel de la « bonne»» pratique. « Pour le vote c’est vrai, il a raison (de suggérer que les musulmans devraient s’abstenir, NDLR), mais moi je vais voter, parce que je suis en France»», affirme la jeune femme, qui ne porte pas le voile, mais dit y reconnaître une obligation.

Quand on lui demande comment elle fait le tri parmi les normes mises en avant par les tiktokeurs, elle dit se fier à son libre arbitre et à ses « propres recherches»»."The little ones, when they look at that, they believe it automatically, but at my age it's not possible," she laughs.If I was 15, I would follow like an idiot.»»