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Sarkozy sacks diversity adviser

The president has sacked an adviser after he attacked the debate on secularism and Islam to be held next month

PRESIDENT Sarkozy has sacked his “diversity adviser” after the latter attacked the debate on Islam and secularism to be held from April 5.

Speaking at a meeting he helped to organise at the Paris Grand Mosque “for the dignity of Islam in France”, Abderahmane Dahmane said Muslims should give up their membership of Sarkozy’s UMP Party if the debate went ahead.

He said “a handful of neo-Nazis” in the party were responsible for the holding of the debate (which is supported by Mr Sarkozy), though he tried to distance the president from it by claiming he had originally wanted it to be aimed at “defending Muslims” and that those intentions had been derailed.

The general secretary of the UMP, Jean-François Copé, was especially to blame, Mr Dahmane said, calling him “a plague for Muslims”.

The national secretary of the UMP, Samia Badat, said she was “shocked” by Mr Dahmane’s “outrageous words and dubious comparisons”, which she said played into the hands of the Front National.

Mr Dahmane is a former teacher and schools inspector and an anti-racism militant. He is seen as a moderate Muslim, whom Mr Sarkozy has in the past decorated with the Légion d’Honneur and called a “builder of bridges” between France and Muslims.

The rift comes as the debate causes tensions within the party.

Prime minister François Fillon has said he does not want it to be centred on Islam or to “stigmatise Muslims”.

One UMP MP however, Chantal Brunel, caused outrage last week when, reacting to the rise in popularity surveys of Front National leader Marine le Pen, she said that immigrants coming from North Africa should be “put back on the boats”.

Photo: Abderahmane Dahmane, screenshot from TF1

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