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Sarkozy hails France's Christian heritage
French President Nicolas Sarkozy hails France's Christian heritage one month before ban on full-face Muslim veil comes into effect
AFP , Thursday 3 Mar 2011
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Sarkozy
France's President Nicolas Sarkozy shakes hands with nuns as he visits the Puy-en-Velay cathedral, Thursday, (Reuters).

President Nicolas Sarkozy, leader of an officially secular republic, hailed France's Christian heritage Thursday as his right-wing party questioned Islam's role in society.

Sarkozy's speech in the Catholic pilgrimage town of Puy-en-Velay came one month before France is due to formally begin a ban on the wearing of full-face Muslim veils in public places and amid controversy over religious identity.

Critics of the president and his majority party, the centre-right UMP, have argued against stirring dangerous prejudices and endangering France's strictly secular identity by calling for a national debate on religion.

But Sarkzoy, who faces a tough challenge from a rejuvenated far-right in next year's presidential election, remains undeterred, and reached out to Catholic voters in a way designed to annoy his left-wing critics.

"Christianity left us a magnificent heritage of civilisation. As a secular president, I can say that," he said, speaking in a town that for centuries has been a way station for pilgrims heading to Santiago de Compostela.

"This heritage comes with obligations, this heritage is a privilege, but it presents us above all with a duty: It obliges us to pass it on to future generations, and we should embrace it without doubt or shame," he said.

Sarkozy's renewed celebration of Christianity came as the leadership of his UMP party was trying to start a national debate on religious practice, and in particular on the place of France's more than five million Muslims.

Last year's debate on national identity raised political tension to boiling point and saw France widely criticised, particularly as it came as Sarkozy targeted foreign-born Roma Gypsies for expulsion.

Opponents accused the leader, who is struggling in the polls, of stirring racial divisions in a bid to win votes from the far-right National Front, now gaining ground under its founder Jean-Marie Le Pen's daughter, Marine.

Sarkozy appears to be returning to the fray. Last month he declared that multiculturalism had been a "failure" and said that he wanted to see develop a "French Islam, not an Islam in France."

Now, UMP secretary general Jean-Francois Cope has called a meeting on April 5 to discuss religious practice "particularly that of the Muslim sect".

On April 11, a law banning face-covering garments like the niqab or the burqa will come into effect, forcing the tiny minority of French Muslim women that wear them to remove them or face arrest and fines.





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markjuliansmith
05-03-2011 12:07pm
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Equality= Muslim Men wearing the burqa and the veil
The reasoning put forward by Hezbollah in Lebanon some months ago and Hamas in their current Virtue drive in Gaza align with the Iran clerics claim women not dressing properly cause earthquakes and are responsible for the inappropriate behavior men subject them to including rape. These statements reinforce the reality the burqa is not a freely worn garment given the clear stigma Muslim women, who do not wear the burqa or even the veil, are subject to in Muslim communities. If it is such a free choice how is it Muslim men are not covered in a ton of black fabric or cotton veils to cover their masculinity? Are Muslim men not sexual beings? It is only when Muslim men are compelled to wear the burqa and veils that there will be equality in Islam between men and women, along with changes to divorce settlements. Inheritance and equality under law for the same crimes, and Muslim men can be beaten by women and children as Muslim men have the right to do so to women and children now.
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Cowboy
04-03-2011 04:34pm
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Christian ?
Sarkozy would like us to forget the slaughter of thousands of Protestant Hugenots by Catholics. My how history has been revised ! Christian Heritage in France is killing true Bible believing Christians.
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