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Dublin: 19 °C Wednesday 5 August, 2020

Debate on Islam in France ignites controversy

A debate on the role of Islam in secular France just one week ahead of the outlawing of facial veils in public has led to cries of prejudice within the country.

Image: Ng Han Guan/AP/Press Association Images

FRENCH PRESIDENT Nicolas Sarkozy has sparked controversy after announcing that his UMP party will host a debate on the role of Islam in secular France.

The plans have even drawn criticism from members of the conservative UMP itself, with suggestions that Sarkozy is cynically indulging the country’s resurgent far-right by stirring up anti-Muslim prejudice as an election ploy, reports the BBC.

However, the UMP has rejected the criticisms - saying that the major changes in France’s culture needed to be addressed.

France has the largest Muslim population in Europe. The country has seen rising tensions in relation to religion in recent years, and the upcoming controversial debate is being held just one week before a new law (bitterly-contested by some who see it as an unfair attack on Muslims) will outlaw the wearing of full-facial veils in public places.

Claude Guéant, France’s interior minister, has  not helped to garner an impression of tolerance within the cabinet’s attitude to French Muslims by bluntly describing the growing numbers of followers of Islam as a “problem”, the Guardian reports.

The debate will cover topics such as halal food being served in school cafeterias, Muslims prayer spilling onto the streets when mosques are overcrowded, and Islamic dress.

The debate will last for three hours. The guests have not yet been finalised.

Read more: France’s face veil ban to take effect soon >

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