PARIS – Widening the public opposition to same-sex marriage, Muslim intellectuals and scholars in France have called on the sizable minority to join major protests against a government bill legalizing the relationship.
"We will protest on January 13 by joining a pluralist campaign to preserve the traditional framework of marriage," the Muslim activists wrote in the letter cited by Reuters."We invite all French Muslims to turn out in large numbers."
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The letter, issued on Monday, January 7, accused the government of President Francois Hollande of using the marriage issue "to mask its ineffectiveness in the fight against unemployment".
The Socialist-led government sparked uproar in France last month after approving a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in the country.
The bill, which will be debated by France’s National Assembly this month, would grant gay couples the right to adopt children.
The bill has triggered massive protests across the country, with churches speaking loudly against the move.
France's top Catholic prelate Paris Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois has criticized the government for forging ahead with the plans at a time when the country faced urgent economic concerns.
In August, Vingt-Trois launched the Catholic campaign with a national prayer day against same-sex marriage.
Last week, the French government instructed Catholic schools not to discuss the law with their pupils, urging state education officials to report anti-gay discussions at Catholic schools.
The government has a comfortable majority in parliament to pass the bill.
Opinion polls show almost 60 percent of the French support same-sex marriage but less than half want to let gay couples adopt children, which is part of the reform.
The letter, signed by intellectuals, business leaders and leaders of several grassroots Muslim groups, reflected a growing Muslim role in a mostly Catholic-led movement against same-sex marriage.
“March For All”
The letter follows a similar appeal on Saturday by the influential Union of French Islamic Organizations (UOIF) which urged Muslims to join the "March for All"; the Paris protest against the reform the government has dubbed "Marriage for All".
"This bill, if it passes, will disrupt family and social structures and civil law dangerously and irreparably," UOIF said.
While the Catholic hierarchy has not officially backed next week’s protest, eight bishops plan to join the march, 25 have encouraged Catholics to attend it and another 40 have defended it, the Catholic daily La Croix reported.
Meanwhile, Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, head of the French Church, Chief Rabbi Gilles Bernheim and French Muslim Council head Mohammed Moussaoui have all decided not to join the street protest.
"When I need to make something known to the government or the president, I don't need to go demonstrate," Vingt-Trois said last month.
The French Buddhist Union is the only main faith group that declined to take a stand, saying Buddha never spoke about homosexuality and suggesting a referendum to decide the issue.
Passing the law would make France the 12th country around the world to legalize same-sex marriage.
It is already allowed in Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, and Sweden.
Same-sex relationship and marriage are totally prohibited in Islam, Christianity and all divine religions.
Islam teaches that believers should neither do the obscene acts, nor in any way indulge in their propagation.
The Catholic Church teaches that homosexuality is not a sin, but considers homosexual intercourse as sinful.
Pope Benedict XVI has said that same-sex marriage threatened "the future of humanity itself."
In March, he denounced moves to legalize the same-sex marriage in the United States, where President Barack Obama has since come out in its support.Catholic Church leaders in England and Scotland have also spoken out against gay marriage this year after Prime Minister David Cameron and the Scottish regional government both announced plans to legalize it.
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