Ex-Sarkozy aide lashes out at debate on Islam

The Associated Press
Abderrahmane Dahmane, a former advisor to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in charge of diversity questions, answers questions from  Associated Press reporters, in Paris, Thursday, March 31, 2011. On Monday, Dahmane, who was fired by President Sarkozy on March 11 for criticizing the debate and calling the conservative UMP party leader Jean-Francois Cope a "neo-nazi", called on French Muslims to wear a green star as a sign of protest. The UMP will start a debate on secularism and the place of religions in France on April 5,  but since its announcement, many, even in the UMP side, fear the debate could focus on Islam and lead to the stigmatization of French Muslims. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
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Abderrahmane Dahmane, a former advisor to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in charge of diversity questions, answers questions from Associated Press reporters, in Paris, Thursday, March 31, 2011. On Monday, Dahmane, who was fired by President Sarkozy on March 11 for criticizing the debate and calling the conservative UMP party leader Jean-Francois Cope a "neo-nazi", called on French Muslims to wear a green star as a sign of protest. The UMP will start a debate on secularism and the place of religions in France on April 5, but since its announcement, many, even in the UMP side, fear the debate could focus on Islam and lead to the stigmatization of French Muslims.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy's ousted adviser on diversity says the president's conservative party is the "plague of Muslims."

Abderrahmane Dahmane was fired last month, in part for criticizing an upcoming debate on secularism and Islam organized by Sarkozy's UMP party.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon said Thursday he won't take part in the debate, which has drawn widespread criticism.

Dahmane told The Associated Press on Thursday that he wants to engage the Muslim community against the UMP and its leader, Jean-Francois Cope.

Dahmane has urged French Muslims to gather in front of the UMP headquarters to protest the debate next Tuesday.

He and other critics have said the UMP party is not the right forum for such a debate.