One in four French Muslims is against the country’s secular laws and values, a new study suggests, as the government pushes for more restrictions on Muslims practicing their religion in the society.
The results of the survey by Ifop, the French Institute of Public Opinion, published on Sunday showed that 24 percent of those who identify themselves as Muslims support the wearing of the burqa and niqab, full-face veils that were banned in public six years ago.
Some 1,029 people were surveyed in the, poll which was carried out for a major study of French Muslims by Institut Montaigne, a liberal think-tank. The results were published in the Le Journal du Dimanche weekly.
The study said the two other categories were those “completely secular,” who made up 46 percent of the total respondents, and the “proud Muslims” (25 percent) who wanted a greater role for religion in the society but opposed burqa.
It said, however, that a considerable majority of the people surveyed, about 60 percent, think the government should allow Muslim girls to wear hijab in school. That comes almost 12 years after the government ordered the religious symbols be banished from classrooms.
The study was carried out between April 13 and May 23, meaning that a widening public debate about the wearing of Islamic swimsuit, known as burkini, had almost no impact on the responses. A ban on burkini in 15 locations across France sparked huge public backlash, with many criticizing it as a blow to liberal values on which France in founded. A court finally decided to lift the ban although far-right activists and political parties want it restored as a countermeasure against potential terror threats.
France is believed to have the largest population of Muslims in Western Europe, with officials estimating it at around five million. But Ifop said the number of people identifying as Muslim was smaller than often thought, putting it at around 3.7 million, or 5.6 percent of the population of over 15 years.