France threatens to expel radical muslims

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In an interview in the daily Le Figaro, the minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, also pledged to deny visas to Muslim participants in conferences who did not respect the values of the French state.

“The Muslims are not above the law, but they are not below the law either,” Sarkozy was quoted as saying.

“Because I have reached out my hand, I can be very firm against all fundamentalist movements.” More than any other official in France’s center-right government, Sarkozy has sought to set strict limits on the behavior of the country’s growing Muslim community. He has spoken of creating an “official Islam for France” that will take France’s second-largest religion out of the “cellars and garages” and demonstrate that most Muslims are mainstream, law-abiding citizens.

French law dictates a strict separation of church and state, and Sarkozy’s remarks come amid a fierce debate about whether to pass a law banning head scarves in public schools.