France is a country with a population of 60 million, in which Church and State have been separated since 1905. This means, among other things, that census takers are unable to gather information about religious affiliations, and there is no official information about the number of Muslims and Jews currently living in France. However, it is believed that France is home to between 4 and 5 million Muslims - holding foreign or French citizenship - as compared to roughly 600,000 Jews.
Since the bombings of September 11th, 2001, as elsewhere, France has had its share of often-harsh controversy about the compatibility of Islam with the values of the Republic and Western-type democracy. Some marginal, but very vocal, voices within the Jewish community and in conservative-right circles close to the Jewish political right, have openly questioned the Muslims’ ability to fully integrate into French society, and have even compared Islamic fundamentalism to Nazism – a comparison that is both irrelevant and dangerous. France has a large Muslim population that is in the country for the long-term, and most of France’s young Muslims hold French citizenship.
Première parution : Jean-Yves Camus, « Organizations and trends within contemporary French Islam », en 2004 sur le site de l’International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, Herzliya ( Israël)