Muslims in France must make more of an effort when it comes to blending into French society, the head of the Foundation for Islam in France said Monday. Following the Nice attacks, Muslims should be considerate to and not upset those affected by the tragedy, Jean-Pierre Chevenement said, according to the Local.
"Out of friendship for my compatriots of Muslim origin I'm asking them to make a little effort to adapt to the customs of the host society," he told reporters. Likewise, Chevenement said, it was "in very bad taste of those (burkini-wearing) women to go bathing two weeks after the Nice attack, 20 or 30 kilometres (miles) away" from the site that claimed the lives of 86 people. "It was bound to cause surprise, consternation and unease in the rest of the population," he added.
A burkini is a swimsuit that Muslim women wear which covers the legs, arms and hair only exposing hands and feet. Women use these suits when swimming or visiting the beach, the design of the clothing allows women to remain covered up and honor their faith.
The goal of the Foundation for Islam in France is to help integrate Muslims into society more easily by teaching them about French Culture and assisting Muslim students to attain a better future. Chevenement has said one of the biggest problems for young Muslims is unemployment.
Chevenement’s comments about Muslim’s societal behavior is not the first time he has said something controversial. In August, he told a French newspaper that Muslims need to make more of an effort to fit in following several burkini bans in towns like Sisco on the island of Corsica and Cannes.
“Muslims, like all French citizens, should be able to worship freely but they must also understand that in the public space where there is public interest, all citizens should make the effort to use ‘natural reason,’” he told the publication.
This caused several people to vent their frustrations on social media, prompting the trending hashtag #MusulamDiscret, which users used to mock his interpretations of how “discreet Muslim” should behave.