Islam is the second largest religion in France, and the country has the largest number and percentage of Muslims in western Europe. The majority of Muslims are either immigrants or their descendants from the former French colonies of North Africa. Most are under thirty years old and either unskilled or semiskilled blue-collar workers living in major industrial centers, but there are rising numbers of students, professionals, and businesspeople. Visible signs of religious affiliation, such as head scarves, were banned in public schools in 1989 as a violation of the separation of church and state. Many French fear the growing number of Muslim immigrants, particularly exiled opposition politicians and movements, as a potential domestic security threat. Others accuse Muslims of resisting assimilation into secular society and of being the root of many social problems. Such fears have led to the increased popularity of extremist racist politicians.
Subjects: Islam — Literature.