Islam Debate Sparks Controversy in France

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French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP party organized a controversial dialogue on practicing Islam in France’s secular society. The debate drew criticism from Muslims and people belonging to other religions, and even from members of the ruling party itself. Critics have blamed the party of attempting to please a resurgent far right. The debate came one week before laws preventing Muslim women from wearing full-face veil publicly come into force. With Muslim leaders staying away from the dialogue, only politicians and representatives of other religions participated in the three-hour event held at a hotel in Paris.