"There are very few minarets in France and they must necessarily blend in with the urban and social environment, in a harmonious and reasonable manner," Fillon said in a speech delivered as part of France's national identity debate.
Switzerland's referendum vote to ban minarets reverberated in France, which is home to Europe's largest Muslim minority and is building big mosques in Marseille, Strasbourg and in Paris.
Fillon said the issue would be left to mayors to decide, based on urban planning regulations.
France's five million Muslims have fewer than 2,000 mosques or prayer houses, most of which are housed in small, modest halls, dubbed "basement mosques".
"I prefer mosques that are open, rather than dark basements," Fillon said.
"What we must fight is fundamentalism, but certainly not Muslims. We mustn't confuse everything."
The prime minister made the case that new mosques would allow a moderate Islam to emerge, one that is compatible with staunchly secular France.
"We must strive to develop a French Islam instead of having Islam imposed on France," he said.
Source: ABS CBN (English)
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
France: Minarets are urban planning issue, says PM
France will not follow Switzerland's lead and ban the construction of minarets as long as the towers blend in with the surroundings, Prime Minister Francois Fillon said Friday.