Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Tunisia's Parliament votes on new Government

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

French court rules #burkini ban "clearly illegal"

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Biden in Turkey, Colombia Peace Deal, Ethiopia Olympic Protest (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Earthquake in Italy, French Burkini Ruling (part 1)

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

The hidden secrets of Les Invalides

Read more

FOCUS

Pro-Opposition stronghold Port-Gentil feverishly awaits presidential elections

Read more

ENCORE!

Alexis Michalik: treading the boards in the footsteps of 'Edmond'

Read more

REPORTERS

Getting away with murder in DR Congo

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Why does Italy refuse to see the seismic risk?'

Read more

France

Start-up Muslim party eyes local ballots to make its name in France

© Richard Bouhet, AFP | Archival picture shows two women wearing headscarves emerging from a voting booth during France’s 2012 presidential election.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2015-02-12

The Union of French Muslim Democrats (UDMF) has said it hopes to field candidates in eight cities in French elections next month, a modest objective for a young party with big ambitions.

The UDMF this week filed applications to run two candidates in the Parisian suburb of Bobigny as part of local elections in March, French media reported on Thursday. The relatively new political party said it planned to do the same in seven other ballot races, including in Marseille, Lyon and Nice.

Najib Azergui, who founded the UDMF in 2012, told the daily Le Parisian that his group wanted to give a voice to the country's sizeable Muslim community, which struggles to find itself represented in the country’s mainstream parties.

Azergui, who teaches computer technology, denies that his party wants to implement Islamic sharia law in France. He said Islam was completely compatible with democratic values, pointing to France’s well-established Christian Democratic Party as an example of a political group with principles rooted in religion.

He admitted his group remains a marginal one on the French political landscape, with only around 900 members. He hopes the local elections in March, which will include over 2,000 separate races across the country, will help draw attention to the party and swell its ranks.

Headscarves in school

Hocine Hebbali, 32, became the party’s first – and so far only – member elected to public office, winning a seat as a city councilor in Bobigny last year.

The UDMF says it supports using Islamic banking practices to decrease France’s bloated public debt and says the country should invest in the halal food industry as a way to create jobs.

The party wants to repeal France’s 11-year-old ban on headscarves in schools and backs Turkey’s bid to join the European Union, according to the group's website.

The group’s existence is ignored by most French voters, but its appearance on a handful of ballots in March will likely raise eyebrows. Famed French author Michel Houellebecq's latest novel “Submission,” which envisions France ruled by a Muslim party in 2022, sparked a media storm when it hit bookshelves last year.

Speaking to France Inter radio after his novel’s release, Houellebecq said a Muslim party “made a lot of sense”, pointing out that Muslims were dangerously unrepresented in mainstream politics.

 

Date created : 2015-02-12

  • FRANCE

    French right-wing youth leader outed as illegal immigrant

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Socialists win parliament seat in face-off with National Front

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Small election reveals big fault lines in Sarkozy’s UMP

    Read more

COMMENT(S)