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ELECTION

French Mosques accused of backing Hollande

The rightwing UMP party has accused Socialists of courting the Muslim vote and alleges that mosques are calling for the faithful to vote for leftwing candidate Francois Hollande.

French Mosques accused of backing Hollande
Fay Celestial

“I want to condemn the conniving and irresponsible attitude of the Socialist Party and its candidate after religious leaders belonging to a network of 700 mosques called on followers to vote for Francois Hollande,” writes UMP lawmaker Eric Ciotti in a press release on Wednesday. 

Ciotti said the move was “serious and inacceptable” and said he “firmly condemned such practices”. 

Muslim religious authorities in France however deny they have called on voters to support Hollande. In an interview with the newswire AFP, Abdallah Zekri, a leader of the French Council of Muslim Faith, says imams have called on followers to vote but have not given them instructions as to who they should vote for.

According to the weekly Marianne, only one mosque in France, located in Puteaux, west of Paris, has called on believers to vote for Hollande.

Relations between President Nicolas Sarkozy and the Muslim community are tense as Sarkozy, who is running for re-election, is taking a hard line on immigration. He also shocked French Muslims when he called on authorities to label halal meat in France.

Sarkozy lost to Hollande in the first round of the presidential election last week and needs the vote of the far right party the National Front if he wants to beat his Socialist rival in the second round next week.

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ISLAM

Erdogan calls French separatism bill ‘guillotine’ of democracy

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday denounced a planned French law designed to counter "Islamist separatism" as a "guillotine" of democracy.

Erdogan calls French separatism bill 'guillotine' of democracy
Erdogan has already denounced the proposed measures as "anti-Muslim". Photo: Adem ALTAN/AFP

The draft legislation has been criticised both inside France and abroad for stigmatising Muslims and giving the state new powers to limit speech and religious groups.

“The adoption of this law, which is openly in contradiction of human rights, freedom of religion and European values, will be a guillotine blow inflicted on French democracy,” said Erdogan in a speech in Ankara.

The current version of the planned law would only serve the cause of extremism, putting NGOs under pressure and “forcing young people to choose between their beliefs and their education”, he added.

READ ALSO: What’s in France’s new law to crack down on Islamist extremism?

“We call on the French authorities, and first of all President (Emmanuel) Macron, to act sensibly,” he continued. “We expect a rapid withdrawal of this bill.”

Erdogan also said he was ready to work with France on security issues and integration, but relations between the two leaders have been strained for some time.

France’s government is in the process of passing new legislation to crack down on what it has termed “Islamist separatism”, which would give the state more power to vet and disband religious groups judged to be threats to the nation.

Erdogan has already denounced the proposed measures as “anti-Muslim”.

READ ALSO: Has Macron succeeded in creating an ‘Islam for France’?

Last October, Erdogan questioned Macron’s “mental health”, accusing him of waging a “campaign of hatred” against Islam, after the French president defended the right of cartoonists to caricature the prophet Mohammed.

The two countries are also at odds on a number of other issues, including Libya, Syria and the eastern Mediterranean.

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