Tuesday, February 18, 2014

French President visits Paris Mosque, Lauded Muslims

Grand Mosque of Paris
French media covered Tuesday the French President's visit to the Grand Mosque of Paris to commemorate the 100 thousand Muslim soldiers who died during World War I. 
Francois Hollande's visit drew the public’s attention as both the Muslim population and anti-Muslim attacks are on the rise in France.
Islam is “perfectly compatible with the values of France,” Hollande said.

“This homage is a call for respect,” Hollande said, urging a “fierce fight against discrimination, inequality and racism” as well as against “anti-Muslim words and acts.” 
“The important value that makes diversity and unity possible is secularism,” he said.
Hollande unveiled a plaque paying tribute to the 100,000 French Muslims who died fighting in the two world wars.

About 600,000 troops from France's colonies took part in the 1914-18 war and about 70,000 Muslims lost their lives at the battle of Verdun in 1916, according to figures released by the defence ministry in 2010.
Muslim representatives expressed their concern during the meeting with Hollande and requested that necessary precautions be taken, according to the Union of Islamic Organizations of France. 
According to a poll published in April last year, three out of four French people have an negative image of Islam.
The number of attacks against Muslims in France increased 11 percent in 2013 compared to the previous year as police recorded 226 attacks against Muslims. 
Meanwhile, French media interpreted the visit as being aimed at gaining the favor of Muslims, who currently constitute five percent of the country's voters, ahead of the March local elections.

France is home to a Muslim minority of six million, Europe’s largest.
The Grand Mosque of Paris is the largest mosque in France and was built between 1922 -1926.
With its 33-meter-high minaret, the first prayer in the mosque was led by Ahmad al-Alawi, an Algerian Sufi, in 1926.

About 100,000 Muslims died fighting against Germany in World War I, according to Inter France news agency.

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