PARIS – With almost half of French see Muslims as a threat to their national identity, the majority of people in France believe Islam too influential role in their society, a new survey has found.
"Our poll shows a further hardening in French people's opinions," Jerome Fourquet, head of Ifop's opinion department, told Le Figaro and cited by Reuters.
An IFOP poll found that most French see Islam is playing too influential role in their society.
It found that 43% of French see Muslim presence in France is a threat to the national identity.
Only 17% of respondents opine that the Muslim presence was enriching French society.
Forty percent of those questioned were indifferent to the presence of Islam, the survey showed.
The poll, which included 1,736 people, also showed a growing resistance to the Islamic symbols in France.
Forth-three percent of respondents said they opposed the building of more mosques in France, up from 39% in 2010.
The poll also revealed that 63% of respondents oppose the wearing of Islamic headscarf in public, compared to 59% two years ago.
In 2004, France banned Muslims from wearing hijab, an obligatory code of dress, in public places. Several European countries followed the French example.
France has also outlawed the wearing of face-veil in public.
The integration of French Muslims was thrust into the spotlight in March when a self-proclaimed Al-Qaeda gunman went on a shooting spree in southwest France that killed three Jewish children, a rabbi and three soldiers.
"In recent years, there has not been a week when Islam has not been in the heart of the news for social reasons: the veil, halal food, for dramatic news like terrorist attacks or geopolitical reasons," Fourquet said.
France is home to a Muslim minority of six millions, Europe’s largest.
Muslim leaders have blamed French politicians for stoking the fear of Islam in the country.
"Islam has left the spiritual sphere to become a political subject," Mohamed Moussaoui, president of the umbrella French Council of Muslim Faith (CFCM), said.
"Attempts to associate marginal practices with mainstream Muslim religion fuels the rejection of every aspect of Islam."
Former president Nicolas Sarkozy has adopted a series of measures to restrict Muslim freedoms in an effort to win support of far-right voters.
Under Sarkozy, the French government a national debate on the role of Islam in French society.
The French government also outlawed Muslim street prayers, a sight far-right leader Marine Le Pen likened to the Nazi occupation.
Muslims have also complained of restrictions on building mosques to perform their daily prayers.
Uproar has also gripped France recently after Jean Francois Cope, candidate to lead the Movement for a Popular Movement (UMP) party suggested this month that French Muslim youths were tearing pain au chocolate pastries from children's hands during Islam's fasting month of Ramadan.The publication of the poll also came after a far-right group occupied a mosque in the western city of Poitiers at the weekend and issued a "declaration of war" against what it called the Islamisation of France.
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