Poll on French Muslims blasts popular cliches

20th September 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Sept 19, 2006 (AFP) - A large majority of French Muslims support sexual equality, free choice in religion and the separation of church and state, flying in the face of some Western cliches on Islam, a new poll reveals.

PARIS, Sept 19, 2006 (AFP) - A large majority of French Muslims support sexual equality, free choice in religion and the separation of church and state, flying in the face of some Western cliches on Islam, a new poll reveals.

Of the Muslims questioned, 91 percent said they supported male-female equality, while 69 percent would accept a Muslim woman marrying a non-Muslim, according to the CSA poll to be published Thursday by the Roman Catholic weekly La Vie.

Some 73 percent also said they agreed with the French separation of church and state -- an issue spotlighted two years ago by a contentious ban on religious signs including Muslim headscarves in state schools.

Fully 94 percent said they believed people were equal regardless of their religion, and 46 percent that it was acceptable for a Muslim to convert to Christianity -- against 45 percent who said the opposite.

Young French Muslims were the least flexible on the issues of conversion from Islam -- opposed by 56 percent of 18-24 year olds -- and inter-religious marriage, with 31 percent against the idea compared with 26 percent overall.

The survey suggested that France's Muslims are, on average, younger than the general population, with 49 percent aged under 30 -- compared with one in four people nationwide, or one in six Roman Catholics.

France does not compile official statistics on racial, ethnic or religious groups on the grounds that they undermine the principle of equal citizenship.

French Muslims were generally observant of major religious rites, the study suggested, with 88 percent saying they fast during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan and 44 percent saying they pray five times a day.

But 30 percent said they never read from the Koran. Only 17 percent -- most of them men -- went to mosque once a week, while 49 percent never did so.

While only four percent had made the pilgrimage to Mecca -- a religious obligation for Muslims -- three quarters said they hoped one day to do so.

The poll of 513 Muslims aged 18 and over, selected from a nationwide sample of 15,000, was conducted by telephone between April 17 and August 30.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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