Ahmed Jaballah, the head of the Union of Islamic Organizations of France, a major Muslim group that helped organize the conference, said the "rather morose ambiance" over France's sluggish economic growth recently hasn't helped Muslims' aspirations, suggesting that a search for scapegoats is politically appealing. He said he's concerned about the government's plans.
"Unfortunately, Muslims have the impression today that secularism is being shaped based on Muslim practices, and that's worrisome," he said in an interview. "Everybody always talks about secularism, how it's not just about Muslims. But in fact, Muslims are targeted. Nobody is fooled."
"Muslims wonder: Can we trust secularism?" he said. "Remember the French slogan: 'Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite.' Today, we want this fraternity to be real."