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France’s Muslims: Gay Paris

From The Economist

THE French are fairly relaxed when it comes to family matters and private choices. François Hollande, the Socialist president, is not married to Valérie Trierweiler, the "first girlfriend", nor was he to Ségolène Royal, the previous woman in his life and mother of their four children. His predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, divorced his second wife while in office, and married a third, Carla Bruni, without any fuss. The current mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, is openly gay.

The past few weeks, however, have seen an unusually vigorous debate, after Mr Hollande’s government introduced a new law that will allow gay couples to marry and adopt children. Tens of thousands of Catholic traditionalists took to the streets to demonstrate. The archbishop of Lyon suggested that the law would open the way to polygamy and incest. The French Council of the Muslim Faith denounced the plan, arguing that gay marriage goes against "all Muslim jurisprudence".

Many French Catholics, who wear their religion lightly, are as uncomfortable with the ultra-traditionalists' stance as younger French Muslims are with those of their official representatives. Just how far apart those views can be was apparent when a young Muslim scholar, Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed, decided last week to open a gay Muslim prayer room on the outskirts of Paris. Mr Zahed, who married his partner in South Africa, where gay marriage is already legal, said that gay French Muslims feel uncomfortable in French mosques but have nowhere else to go.

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