French Muslims demand group ban after mosque attack
PARIS (Reuters) - The French Muslim Council (CFCM) urged the government on Monday to ban a far-right group that occupied a mosque on Saturday and issued a "declaration of war" against what it called the Islamization of France.
CFCM President Mohammed Moussaoui said the Council also wanted better protection for mosques and Muslim cemeteries against racist attacks, which he said jumped sharply in 2011 and continued to rise this year.
Some 73 protesters from a movement called Identity Group seized a mosque in the western city of Poitiers on Saturday and unfurled a banner referring to Charles Martel's historic defeat of advancing Muslim troops there in 732.
They stayed for more than six hours before police ejected them.
In a video posted on its website, the movement issued what it called a "declaration of war" on multiculturalism. It also called for a referendum to block further immigration from outside Europe and further construction of mosques in France.
"We demand the dissolution of this group," Moussaoui said.
The public prosecutor's office in Poitiers has placed four of the protesters under judicial investigation for spreading racial hate and discrimination.
Moussaoui said the protest, the first time a mosque in France had been occupied like that, represented "a new escalation in violence against Muslims".
Violent acts and threats against Muslims rose by 34 percent in 2011 compared to 2010, and went up again by 14 percent in the first half of this year, he told reporters.
The protesters had come from as far away as Lyon and Nice, near France's eastern borders, he said.
(Reporting by Tom Heneghan; Editing by Jon Hemming)
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