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France, Secularism and Double Standards on Islam

Benjamin Haddad

Watch the interview on AlJazeera.com.

Is there a conflict between Islam and the way French secularism is applied, or are the laws being used unfairly to single out French Muslims?

In this week’s Arena, French Senator Nathalie Goulet, Benjamin Haddad, research fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington DC, and civil rights activist Yasser Louati debate whether France’s strict secularism laws are being used to target French Muslims.

“How come every single time we speak about Muslims it is either under the lens of terrorism, security measures, threat to identity, threat to French culture?” says Louati, who is also a former spokesman for the Collective Against Islamophobia in France.

“When we have attacks and we have to face terrorism, you have to react. And the way to react was maybe not the right one,” says Goulet. “But at the same time, you cannot show France as an Islamophobic country. I mean, that is not fair.”

“France is one of the countries in Europe where you have the lowest level of rejection of Muslims,” Haddad says. “The question of identity and integration are very central to our societies … we’re trying to adapt principles to the emergence of Islam in French society.”

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