Islam debate in France sparks controversy

French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s party, the UMP, is preparing to host a controversial debate on the role of Islam in secular France.

The debate has provoked protests from Islamic and other religious groups, and even from some members of the governing conservative UMP itself.

Critics have accused the party of pandering to a resurgent far-right.

The debate is being held a week before a law banning the Islamic full-face veil in public comes into force.

The three-hour, round-table discussion is being held in a mid-range Paris hotel with a guest list not fully specified.

The BBC’s Hugh Schofield in Paris says the political atmosphere in France in recent days has been poisonous, with accusations flying between left and right.


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