To-be head of French Islam group draws flak for asking Muslims to be ‘discreet’

Published in Hindustan Times

In the backdrop of the ban on the so-called “burkini” — a full-body swimming suit — the proposed head of a new French government-backed Muslim organisation drew flak for suggesting that Muslims should be “discreet”.

Jean-Pierre Chevenement, a non-Muslim who describes himself as a “secular republican”, is set to take over as head of the Foundation of French Islam later this year. The foundation is being created to better integrate France’s Muslim population, but Chevenement’s initial foray in this regard has backfired.

According to the Middle East Eye, Chevenement said Muslims need to do their best to fit in, referring to towns that have banned the burkini. So far, the riviera resort of Cannes, Villeneuve-Loubet and Sisco on the island of Corsica have expressed their desire to ban the burkini, a decision many have called discriminatory.

Chevenement reportedly told a French newspaper that “Muslims, like all French citizens, should be able to worship freely but they must also understand that in the public space where there is public interest, all citizens should make the effort to use ‘natural reason’”.

Twitter, of course, responded with its trademark levity, with hashtags such as #MusalmanDiscret and #DiscreetMuslim trending worldwide. The Twitterati found new and innovative meanings of “discreet Muslim”.

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