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EUROPE > Half of France sees Muslims as ‘threat’

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French policemen escort a Muslim woman for an identity control in Paris. A new survey shows Islam plays too influential role in their society. AFP photo

French policemen escort a Muslim woman for an identity control in Paris. A new survey shows Islam plays too influential role in their society. AFP photo

An increasing majority of people in France believe Islam plays too influential a role in their society and almost half see Muslims as a threat to their national identity, according to a poll published yesterday.

The survey by pollster Ifop in Le Figaro newspaper showed that 60 percent of people believed that Islam was “too important” in France in terms of its influence and visibility, up from 55 percent two years ago.

It found that 43 percent of respondents considered the presence of the Muslim community as a threat to their national identity, compared with just 17 percent who said it enriched society. Forty percent of those questioned were indifferent to the presence of Islam, Le Figaro said.

 “Our poll shows a further hardening in French people’s opinions,” Jerome Fourquet, head of Ifop’s opinion department, told the newspaper. “In recent years, there has not been a week when Islam has not been in the heart of the news for social reasons: the veil, halal food, for dramatic news like terrorist attacks or geopolitical reasons,” Fourquet said.

 Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the French Muslim Council (CFCM), said fear of Islam was being stoked by political manipulation of concern over immigration and fears the growing Muslim population could lead to the imposition of sharia law.

The survey, carried out on Oct. 15-18 on 1,736 people, showed a growing resistance to the symbols of the Islamic faith. Sixty-three percent opposed Muslim women wearing the veil or Islamic headscarves in public, compared with 59 percent two years ago. Sarkozy’s previous conservative banned the wearing of full-face veils.

October/26/2012

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