Just under 30 percent of French Muslims reject secular laws: poll

September 18, 2016 7:51 AM EDT

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PARIS (Reuters) - Just under 30 percent of France's 3 to 4 million Muslims reject the country's secular laws, according to an Ifop poll published by the French weekly Journal du Dimanche.

When asked if they considered the Islamic legal and moral code of sharia to be more important than the French Republic's laws, 29 percent of respondents answered "yes."

The poll found that 20 percent of male Muslim respondents and 28 percent of female Muslim respondents were in favor of the face veil, the niqab, and of the burqa which covers both face and body.

Another 60 percent said they were in favor of letting girls and women wear a head scarf at schools and universities which is forbidden at France's secular public institutions.

Deadly attacks by Islamist militants, including bombings and shootings in Paris which killed 130 people last November and a truck attack in Nice killing more than 80 people in July, have raised tensions between communities in France.

French Muslim leaders said last month that decisions taken by some municipal authorities to ban the body-covering swimwear the burkini could lead to further stigmatization of Muslims.

The Ifop poll contradicted previous estimates which said Muslims made up to 10 percent of France's population of some 65 million. It said Muslims represented 5.6 percent of the country's citizens aged 15 and over and 10 percent of under 25s. It said 84 percent of France's Muslims were under 50.

It can be difficult to establish the religious background of French citizens because the country's secular laws forbid the collection of data on religion and ethnicity.

There are also many people who may be of Muslim descent, but do not necessarily consider themselves Muslims.

The poll, commissioned by the think tank Institut Montaigne, was conducted by phone between April 13 and May 23 among 1,029 people aged 15 and older who were of Muslim faith or culture, extracted from a sample of 15,459 people.

(Reporting by Astrid Wendlandt; Editing by Ros Russell)



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