Chirac to appoint Muslim prefect

8th January 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 8 (AFP) - President Jacques Chirac of France is to appoint a Muslim "prefect" - or departmental governor - next week, his office said Thursday, rejecting rumours that he opposes the move because it smacks of affirmative action.

PARIS, Jan 8 (AFP) - President Jacques Chirac of France is to appoint a Muslim "prefect" - or departmental governor - next week, his office said Thursday, rejecting rumours that he opposes the move because it smacks of affirmative action.

Le Monde newspaper reported earlier that Chirac had blocked the proposal made late last year by Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who openly supports promoting Muslims in order to encourage their integration into French society.But the Elysee palace denied the report.

"On the contrary, the president has several times demanded that the qualifications for public service of our compatriots of immigrant origin be given the same consideration as those of other French men and women. Indeed the promotion of a prefect of immigrant background is due at the next cabinet meeting" due on Wednesday, an official said.

Le Monde said that the disagreement was a sign of growing tensions between Chirac and his highly active and popular interior minister.

France has around 200 prefects and 500 sub-prefects, nearly all of whom have qualified from the elite National Administration School (ENA). Created in 1800 by Napoleon, their task is to represent the state in the country's 100 departments.

There have been rare examples of Muslim prefects in the past, but there are none today and only a handful of sub-prefects - despite the growing size of the Muslim community which at five million is around eight percent of the population.

© AFP

                                Subject: France news

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