French government embroiled in row over faith-based election candidate lists

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Right-wing politicians want religion-based election candidates lists to be banned in France. This comes after a group calling itself the Union of French Muslim Democrats stood in this year's European elections, in which it won just 0.13% of the popular vote. Some members of the government are said to be tempted by the idea of a ban, but President Emmanuel Macron has rejected this approach. Instead, Ellen Salvi reports, he is looking at other possible avenues, including extending the religious neutrality that civil servants have to observe to elected representatives.

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Immigration and issues of identity have been at the centre of intense political debate and controversy in France recently. First there was a debate over how the “bourgeois” middle classes were blind to the everyday realities experienced by the working classes. Then came a call for society to be “vigilant” in the fight against terrorism when faced with the “Islamist hydra”. There has also been the seemingly endless debate about the merits of the veil, which education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer has said is “undesirable in our society”. Now comes the vexed question of lists of election candidates which are based on faith communities, a phenomenon which local government minister Sébastien Lecornu has described as a “threat” and a “curse” which should be “prevented from flourishing”.