France will today take a significant step towards establishing Paris as a western centre for Islamic finance when plans to attract this fast-growing sector to the city are discussed in the country's parliament.

The move is a part of the French capital's wider aspirations to rival London as an international financial centre.

Christine Lagarde, France's finance minister, has already introduced several measures to attract global funds since taking office last June.

"This government's objective is to make France more competitive and one aspect of that is [attracting] Islamic finance," said Anouar Hassane, a credit analyst for Moody's, based in Paris. "We have to compete with the rest of Europe and the emerging economies."

Paris has been left in London's wake when it comes to Islamic finance, even though France has a Muslim population of about 6m - three times that of Britain.

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