French Muslims in political grey area
MARSEILLE, FRANCE// Francois Hollande's new socialist government shows early signs of being less tolerant towards France's large Muslim community than the previous centre-right administration of Nicolas Sarkozy, according to the co-founder of a body promoting the interests of Arabian Gulf and African nations.
The charge is at first glance surprising given the lengths to which Mr Sarkozy went, in vain, to lure voters in the May presidential election from the far-right, anti-immigration Front National.
But Yana Korobko, secretary of the Paris-based Observatory of the Black, Gulf and Mediterranean Seas (OBGMS), said Mr Hollande's positions were "unusually firm for a leftist in France".
In 2004, when finance minister, Mr Sarkozy published a book, entitled The Republic, Religions, Hope, in which he advocated possible amendment of France's 1905 law separating church and state to allow public funds to be used to help ensure every town had adequate mosques.
France has Europe's largest community of Muslims, estimated at between five and seven million, but in some areas, the lack of places of worship is driving people to pray in makeshift premises. (...)