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February 18, 2003

French Muslims Influence Government Policy on Iraq

An article at Arabia.com helps to explain the French Iraq postion. And you thought it was only about French oil interests. Non. The French in their complicated thinking also count votes as well as oil wells.
PARIS - The French governments opposition to a war on Iraq is strongly supported by most people living in France. That includes some five million Muslims, many of them ethnic Arabs, who comprise almost 10 percent of the countrys population. These Muslims, along with Frances long-standing interests in the Middle East, may help explain President Jacques Chiracs call for a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

Hamid Kaci, 31, who owns a dry-cleaning shop in northern Paris. is a strong supporter of Frances conservative president, Jacques Chirac. Kaci, who was born in the region of Kabylia in northern Algeria, does not have French nationality, so he cannot vote in France.

Kaci says Chirac is absolutely right in opposing a U.S.-led campaign to threaten force against Iraq. He says Iraq is not nearly as much of a threat as North Korea.

Kaci is hardly alone in voicing such sentiments. A series of recent polls show 70-80 percent of French oppose a war against Iraq.

Most of Frances five million Muslims are ethnic North Africans. They comprise Europes largest Muslim population.

It is a population, French politics professor Paul Godt says, that Chirac cannot afford to ignore. [more]