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Muslims Worry About Broader France Headscarf Ban

In an interview, Kaddour said many Muslims regret that their faith is in the political crosscurrents again in France.

"Islam has become a political instrument," said the 26-year-old, who is a community activist from the English Channel port city of Le Havre and one of 10 children of Algerian-born parents who moved to France for plentiful jobs during its economic boom times decades ago. "Islam is always brandished whenever there is internal political discord."

"I'm not discouraged enough yet to want to leave France â¿¿ many others feel that way too: We are French and we have our place to claim and our future to establish in France," she said. "I'm not a foreigner. I'm French. I want to live in France, I love this country. Even if it has trouble liking us, we are going to do what's necessary to live serenely in France."

Kaddour says she plans to go back to school to get a higher degree, but has all but given up hopes for a state job. And in France, that matters: the European Union says more than half of France's gross domestic product comes from government spending â¿¿ potentially curbing the work options for headscarf-wearing Muslims such as Kaddour if the ban is broadened.

"A state job, unfortunately..." she said, her voice trailing off. "When I go into job interviews, I wear my headscarf. No results." She admits that she doesn't always know why â¿¿ it could just be her skill set isn't sufficient â¿¿ but suspects her religion plays a role, too.

Kaddour says her future career seems increasingly limited to independent, private practice work. She currently works for a small community group devoted to improving understanding of Islam, called Le Havre de Savoir, or The Haven of Knowledge, playing on the city's name.

At a time of double-digit unemployment rates in France, such restrictions to job access hit headscarf-wearing women especially hard: Muslim men in France don't usually wear visible religious garb.

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