Islam has become a hot-button issue in France. In this country which is officially secular, the French are increasingly confronted with the following question: what is Islam’s place in France? The debate rages on as the next presidential election gets closer. France 24 went to find out more about the Muslims of France.
Muslims in France? Or Muslims of France? These two questions aim to understand just who these French citizens are. With the current debate on “laïcité” (France’s particular conception of secularism), plus the law banning the full-face veil in public coming into force, Muslims are making headlines at the moment. I went out there to meet them.
What I discovered was a tense community; people who have had enough of the media and politicians. In order to shoot this report I met various members of the Muslim community. But I also came up against many refusals to be interviewed, due to people being wary of the media. For those I contacted, the press does not show the true nature of Islam. It is true that it is difficult in a 12-minute report to describe a religion which concerns 4 to 6 million people in France, but of whom only 800,000 are practising Muslims. In turn, there are only 2,000 places where they can pray, a third of the number necessary.
What Muslims want today is to be no longer stigmatised and used as political pawns. With this report, mainly filmed in the outlying suburbs of Paris, in Evry and Meaux, I tried to show how being both French and Muslim could sometimes be difficult. Street prayers, a rise in radicalism, and the full-face veil are just some stigma of a religion which in its great majority observes its faith peacefully.
Caught in the middle between ardent defenders of “laïcité”, and political rows, Muslims want to fully exist in the French republic.