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Last Updated: Friday, 10 September, 2004, 10:14 GMT 11:14 UK
Jews and Muslims bond in France
Muslims in French mosque
Muslim leaders want to prevent the spread of Islamophobia
Representatives of French Muslim and Jewish organisations have held landmark talks on the difficulties faced by both communities in France.

Fouad Alaoui, of the Union of Islamic Organisations of France, said he was concerned about racism and Islamophobia and condemned anti-Semitism in France.

Speaking for Jewish groups, Bernard Kanovitch described the meeting as a very significant event.

It was the first official meeting of its kind.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Alaoui said: "The French Jewish community, like the French Muslim community, must participate in the development of French society, they must live in peace and contribute to social harmony."

Mr Alaoui, who reports say was booed by Jewish militants on his arrival, said he also asked the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France (Crif) "not to point a finger at the Muslims every time an anti-Semitic act is carried out".

Graffiti

Mr Kanovitch, of Crif, said that the meeting was the start of "serious work which consists of helping the integration" of Muslims into the national community.

"But we have also discussed the difficulties from which not only the Jewish community is suffering but also the national community," he said.

He said he also asked them to look at what imams taught in mosques, according to the French news agency AFP.

Mr Kanovitch said another meeting would take place in the future.

Earlier on Thursday, racist graffiti was found scrawled on a mosque near the eastern French city of Strasbourg.

The incident, in the town of Besancon, is the latest of some 300 attacks on Muslim, Jewish, and Christian buildings and cemeteries in and around the Alsace region in recent months.




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