Destinations Magazine

France and Its Muslims: Apartheid, Or Just Apart?

By Stizzard
France and its Muslims: Apartheid, or just apart?

WITH home-made rabbit pâté and fresh cuts of meat, Rémy Mirleau’s boucherie typifies local France, like the tricolour above the town hall. But in Trappes, a formerly Communist-run town south-west of Paris, Mr Mirleau’s butcher’s shop is known for another quality: as the only non-halal one. With a big Muslim population, Trappes exemplifies what Manuel Valls, the French prime minister, has provocatively called “territorial apartheid”. Yet the town also reveals the complex links between segregation, an assertive secular state and the rise of jihadism.A working-class enclave that grew up around a railway yard, Trappes has the vibrant mix of languages and faiths that is common in many banlieues around French cities. The share of children born to at least one foreign-born parent in Trappes jumped from 9% in 1968 to 61% in 2005, say demographers. Once heavily Portuguese, today’s population mostly has family roots in Morocco and Algeria. Nearly two-thirds of housing is publicly owned. The poverty rate of 24% in Trappes is almost twice the average for the Paris region. On the housing estates of Les Merisiers, near a new…


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