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Revealed: The real story about French Muslims, immigration and radicalisation

January 14, 2013 | By Carine Fouteau

Islam is the second religion in France yet Muslims often feel discriminated against and misunderstood. And because the French state outlaws the gathering of data on religious or ethnic grounds it is difficult to know exactly how Muslims view their faith, how many are being radicalised – or even how many Muslims there are in the country. Here Mediapart publishes the results of a major new study attempting to overcome this lack of data. It confirms that a small proportion of Muslim youths are being radicalised. But it also shows how the way in which they are depicted in society has led to an increased religious sentiment among Muslims anxious to assert their identity. Carine Fouteau reports.

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The faithful continue to desert the Catholic Church, new religious trends are imposing themselves on the French Christian scene and secular ideas, once firmly grounded to the Left, now transcend the Left/Right divide. Fervent supporters of secularism can be found even within the ranks of the far-right Front National (FN) party. Islam, on the other hand, is gaining ground, spurred by the constant flow of Muslims into the country since World War II combined with the rising visibility of their French-born children.