First day of Ramadan.
This April 12 around 11:30 p.m., Dylan Thiry and Abed Al Abidi are live on Instagram.
On the shared screen, the young influencer, hooded sweater, sitting in his interior in Dubai, exchanges with his friend Abed, in a tighter shot and cream-colored caftan.
The subject is religious: faith, the love of God… Those who wish can pronounce the certificate of faith which will make them Muslims.
The nicknames parade on the left - soso2080, Lea-officiel06, calou86… - with messages like "Good evening, we spoke today Abed to convert me please".
Hearts and flames, cult emoticons of the Instagram generation, fly away.
Dylan Thiry (right) and Abed Al Abidi, the imam of Cannes, offer to convert to Islam on Instagram.
Abed al abidi
Abed and Dylan “bring up” the participants, most of them young girls. They present themselves: age, religion of the parents, motivation. Some ask Abed about ablution, menstruation during the fast, etc. The exchange lasts about fifteen minutes and ends, in some cases, with the pronunciation of the shahada, the Muslim profession of faith. Once in Arabic, once in French. Young girls stumble over words, but at the end give thanks. “Too happy. One of them, Italian mother and Turkish father, explains having known Dylan on "Koh-Lanta". She says she "sometimes" went to church but "didn't know Christians too much". A holiday in Turkey introduced her to Islam and, although she converted "all alone in her room four years ago",she would like to be sure that this has indeed been "taken into account by God". She wishes to renew her testimony of faith. Rebelote. Index raised, Abed recites the shahada. She repeats after him.
Muslim stepfather, convert mother to Islam
Conversions like these, in front of thousands of Instagramers, Abed and Dylan have counted "thirty" since the beginning of Ramadan.
Their lives, until late at night, also offer recitations of the Koran, in battle mode, or a quiz on religion.
The next day, we find a fleeting trace in Dylan's stories.
In the midst of very different subjects.
Like any good influencer, he tells his life story and makes product placements for face creams or slimming dishes.
Without transition, he posts an extract from "the Villa of broken hearts 6", a program currently broadcast on TFX, in which he seeks love.
Faith, love of God ... Dylan Thiry (bottom) and Abed Al Abidi offer lives on Instagram, like here, on April 12.
Instagram Dylan Thiry
Dylan Thiry goes from a manly tan on a jet ski to a djellaba in the mosque.
He assumes: “In France, we put you in boxes and I don't understand why.
A Muslim can have blue eyes, blond hair, love luxury, and own a Lamborghini.
Some "Muslim brothers" criticize him for his lifestyle.
Fans of reality TV rave to see him photographed in prayer.
“It's part of the game,” he explains from Senegal, where he has been working with a humanitarian association for two weeks.
Distribution of rice, construction of a Koranic school and digging of a well in a village.
All posted on Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook.
How did the Ken-looking reality TV candidate become, in a few months, a "Muslim influencer", as he claims to be today?
Dylan Thiry grew up in Luxembourg with his mother.
His father "drops" them when he is only one year old.
Together, they make a living in the home.
“We didn't even have enough to buy two kebabs, we shared one.
His mother started a new life when he was six years old.
Her stepfather is Muslim.
From this period, Dylan remembers that "there was no more salami" in the kitchen.
“Other than that, nothing special.
The second photo Dylan Thiry posts on his Instagram account is this picture of him in Mecca when he was 16.
Instagram Dylan Thiry
His mother, a Christian, was converted.
She wears the veil.
For three years, she suffered "the looks on the bus" and "the remarks of the teachers at school".
“She stopped wearing it for me, to protect me.
»Teenager, Dylan feels« a lack ».
“I needed discipline.
With Islam, alcohol is prohibited, drugs too.
He passed the course when he was sixteen and took an Arabic middle name, Bilal.
“We chose with my mother because it was close to my first name and we didn't want to shock.
And Bilal has a great story, he was one of the first converts.
When he created his Instagram account in 2014, the second photo he posted shows him all smiles… in Mecca.
A pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia made with his mother in 2010.
"Someone from reality TV with an imam, it's night and day"
Five years later, Dylan again posts this snapshot along with a caption to wish all Muslims a happy Ramadan 2019. The post is noticed because, in the meantime, his Instagram account has changed. It peaks at 500,000 subscribers. Dylan has become a reality TV influencer since his participation in "Koh-Lanta" in 2017 where he landed on the beach in Gucci moccasins. He blended into the background, linking programs and product placements. On social networks, he recounts his love affair with a reality TV candidate, shows off his luxury cars and his sculpted body or runs his hand through his blond square. In this universe, the photo taken in Mecca detonates: “Islam is a very taboo subject. I know I take risks talking about my religion, I was afraid of being banned from TV. "
When he moved to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, at the end of 2019, he distilled a little more. The first confinement, in spring 2020, frees him completely. “A Muslim brother came to offer me to do lives with an imam. Mosques were closed. I said to myself:
The imam in question is Abed Meliani, his real last name. This 35-year-old former medical and management student, a Frenchman born into an Algerian immigrant family in Florange (Moselle), was imam for two years at the mosque in Cannes. A "friend", of whom, curiously, both refuse to reveal the identity, put them in touch a year ago. Abed then knew nothing about reality TV, or the uses of Instagram. Not his world. “We had planned a 15-minute live; it lasted an hour and we had a lot of good feedback:
Thank you for these heartwarming words
. We were asked to do it again. "
Some lives host up to 14,000 people.
“It's true, it's quite atypical.
Someone from reality TV with an imam is night and day, ”Abed admits.
"It's very smart to use an influencer," observes Hakim El Karoui, essayist and author of books on the Muslim religion.
Islam, for young people, it no longer happens in mosques, it is on the networks.
The candidate of "the Villa of broken hearts 6", a reality TV show currently broadcast on TFX, has become in a few months a "Muslim influencer", as he claims.
Fanch Drougard / Droug-Art photogr
During this period, Dylan, confined to his villa in Dubai, gets caught up in the game. He even offers a trip to Mecca for seven sisters and two veiled mothers in tears.
“No influencer, no footballer had ever done that before,” he said.
During the summer, when the world is falling apart, Abed and Dylan meet in Cannes for the first time.
A photo immortalizes the moment on the account of Abed, which now has more than 60,000 subscribers.
Neurolinguistic programming applied to the Koran
Ramadan 2021 begins on April 12. The two friends relaunch their lives. Dylan is right in his boots and says he doesn't fear proselytizing charges. “No one can reach me anymore. I'm tough enough to do whatever I want. As for the requests for conversions, they came, they swear, from the participants themselves. “It was not our intention at the beginning. Containment has sparked demand. People wanted to convert, but mosques were closed. »Abed speaks with them before the live. “These are often people who already pray, who hang out with Muslims, who have been interested in religion for 4-5 years… I sometimes receive several messages per hour. Amélie, 39, is one of them. Damaged by life, she seeks "serenity" in Islam. In front of 4,000 people, that April night,she recited her declaration of faith with her finger raised. “I wanted to do it for a long time. It's a wonderful idea, these lives, ”she delights in, from the north of France.
Afterwards, she was added to a WhatsApp group for new converts. “We can ask all our questions. Abed said to answer as much as possible. “My fear is that they will go and get information from people with a fairly radical or extreme view of Islam. If they share a book of Wahhabi obedience, I can tell them:
this author, I do not recommend it
. "He professes an Islam" of the golden mean "," which adapts to its context and respects the laws of the Republic ". “I refer people to the Grand Mosque of Paris or other mosques. "
Despite a university degree in "law, secularism, religions and society", obtained at the faculty of Nice, he does not wish to officiate as an imam in a mosque for the moment. His project is to become an Internet trainer in Arabic lessons. “I apply the methods of neurolinguistic programming, NLP, on the Koran, but it is applicable on anything. Pass exams, a competition, an entrepreneurial project, etc. You have to work on motivation, remove limiting beliefs and give memorization techniques. "Its website, which has recently been online, offers paid training - 75 euros for the 7h30 lesson - for" Learning to recite in Arabic in order to understand the Koran as Allah has revealed ".