News Agencies – March 14, 2012
President Nicolas Sarkozy visited Paris’s main mosque, a week after a row over halal meat led France’s Muslims and Jews to complain they were being used as pawns in the presidential election. Sarkozy met the mosque’s rector and the French Muslim Council leader and said he told them “he did not want, in this electoral period, some of our compatriots to feel hurt by controversies that have no place here”.
Sarkozy also inaugurated at the mosque a memorial to Muslim soldiers who died fighting for France. The country has for years been debating how far it is willing to go to accommodate Islam, now France’s second religion, and Sarkozy and Le Pen have both made the matter a central issue in their campaigns.
New agencies – February 21, 2012
French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his far-right election rival Marine Le Pen traded blows on over claims that all meat in the Paris region is prepared using Islamic halal methods. Le Pen, trailing both Sarkozy and Socialist frontrunner Francois Hollande ahead of the April 22 elections, made the claim at a rally and pledged to file a legal complaint for “misrepresentation of products”.
Campaigning on in Rungis, home of the main wholesale food market serving the Paris metropolitan area, Sarkozy accused National Front leader Le Pen of getting her facts wrong and creating an artificial controversy. “There is no controversy here. Every year we consume 200,000 tons of meat in the Paris region and 2.5 percent of it is kosher or halal,” Sarkozy said. Le Pen’s claim is “absolutely false”, Interior Minister Claude Gueant said, noting that, while there are halal slaughterhouses in the region, their products are clearly marked.
News Agencies – December 23, 2011
France sparked diplomatic tensions with Turkey by taking steps to criminalize the denial of genocide, including the 1915 mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks, prompting Ankara to cancel all economic, political and military meetings. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said the draft law put forward by members of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s ruling party was “politics based on racism, discrimination, xenophobia.”
“This is using Turkophobia and Islamophobia to gain votes, and it raises concerns regarding these issues not only in France but all Europe,” he told a news conference, adding that Turkey could “not remain silent in the face of this.”
July 27, 2011
French researcher Professor Vincent Geisser has said that terrorism attacks in Europe are a result of the climate against Muslims. Geisser, who said that Europe expresses its societal ills through Islamophobia, warned that there is a risk that Norwegian-like individual acts against Islam might become widespread in Europe. According to Geisser, professor at the Aix Political Sciences Institute of France, populist right-wing politicians like French President Nicolas Sarkozy also has a role in legitimization of anti-Islam rhetoric.
News Agencies – July 5, 2011
A large hangar on the outskirts of Paris could be turned into a place of worship for Muslims, with the city’s police keen to stop members of the community from praying on the streets. Police authorities have identified a former barracks that could hold the large number of worshippers who meet every Friday in Rue Myrha and Rue Polonceau, in the multi-ethnic Goutte d’Or area in the north of the city. Prayers take place in the middle of the road because the nearby mosques are too small to deal with the numbers.
The situation, which has been going on for some time, has led to traffic and public order problems, with some local residents on a war footing. The leader of the far-right National Front party, Marine Le Pen, has drawn on the issue as part of her campaign for the 2012 Presidential elections. The government of President Nicolas Sarkozy has promised to resolve the issue.
Police have found a huge hangar that could be turned into a makeshift mosque: a unused barracks near Porte des Poissonniers, between the road heading north out of Paris and the Périphérique, the city’s famous ring road. The building is owned by the Ministry of Defence and part of it is already occupied by an association that provides support for the homeless.
An Algerian man was denied French citizenship because “his idea of sexual equality is not that of the republic”, according to a high-ranking official quoted by French radio station Europe 1.
The man, who has not been identified, is married to a Frenchwoman, but does not allow her to leave the family home freely, it was claimed. The French constitution states that the government can refuse nationality or strip nationality for a “lack of integration”.
A spokesman for the interior minister, Claude Guéant, told the Guardian that the man had failed to accept the French way of life. “His behaviour showed a lack of assimilation into the French community; it was incompatible with the values of the French republic, notably in respect to the values of the equality of men and women.”
The decision came after far-right leader Marine Le Pen wrote to French MPs asking them to support an end to dual nationality, claiming it “undermines republican values.” President Nicolas Sarkozy is reportedly “very favourable” to ending dual nationality.
BBC News – March 11, 2011
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has fired his diversity adviser after he called on Muslims not to support the governing UMP party. Abderrahmane Dahmane, a Muslim and former UMP official appointed to his post only in January, was protesting against a planned debate on Islam. He said Muslim members of the UMP should not renew their party membership unless the debate was cancelled.
The UMP (Union for a Popular Movement) is planning to hold a public debate on 5 April on “Islam and secularism”. Speaking on March 10th, Mr Dahmane compared the situation of French Muslims to that of Jews during World War II and said the debate had been planned by a “handful of neo-Nazis”.
News Agencies – March 11, 2011
Is French President Nicolas Sarkozy at risk of alienating Muslims in his own party? Muslim activists have called on Muslim members of the governing UMP party to leave the party in protest at a new round of official debates on secularism to begin next month. They say the debate is less about secular society and more about attacking their religion.
News Agencies – March 3, 2011
Women will face prison for hiding their faces under the cloak – as will men who force their wives to wear one. The law, which will take effect from April 11, brands the garment ‘an insult to the country’s values’. It will make France the second country in Europe after Belgium to outlaw Muslim headwear that hides the face. President Nicolas Sarkozy has described the burqa as a ‘sign of debasement’.
The law was voted through last October after a year of heated national debate – and despite threats from al-Qaeda leaders to seek ‘dreadful revenge’ if it is enforced. The ban applies to all public spaces including streets, shops, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, sports stadiums and behind the wheel of a car on a public road.
Under the new rules, men can be fined up to £25,000 and jailed for a year for forcing their wives to wear a burka or a niqab (full face veil). Women will face a smaller fine of around £130 because they are ‘often victims who are not given any choice’, the law states. Repeat offenders who refuse to pay their fines will be sent to prison.
News Agencies – February 18, 2011
France’s National Front party leader Marine Le Pen said that a planned national debate on Islam and secularism would boost its support and improve its chances in the presidential election next year. Le Pen mocked the planned debate as a new opinion poll showed she could score a strong 20 percent in the first round of the presidential vote.
President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government wants the debate, due in April, to discuss whether France’s five-million-strong Muslim minority supports the official separation of church and state.
Le Pen said it could end up backfiring on Sarkozy and his ally Jean-Francois Cope.
Critics said Sarkozy’s government-sponsored debate on national identity in 2009-2010, which led to a ban on full face veils in public, turned into a public forum to air complaints about Muslims and make the minority feel stigmatised. The Ifop poll published on Friday showed Le Pen could win 20 percent in the first round, which would put her in third place behind Sarkozy but in striking distance of Socialist Party leader Martine Aubry, the main opposition candidate.