Groups from across Europe yesterday gathered in the French capital to give voice to increasingly pronounced anti-Islam sentiments on the continent. Claiming to represent a wide range of political opinion, from Marxists and feminists to hardcore secularists and right-wing activists, the groups said they would coordinate their fight against what they call the Islamisation of Europe.
French Muslim and left-wing groups denounced the gathering that drew about 500 people as divisive. The president of the mainstream French Council of the Muslim Faith, Mohammed Moussaoui, said, "We are strongly in favour of the right to free expression but we feel that such a meeting is a threat to national unity and to our ability to live together."
He accused the organisers of incitement to hatred but the authorities rejected the council's appeal to have the meeting banned. The police cordoned off the area near the hall where the gathering took place but only a few dozen people showed up for a counter-demonstration.