A number of Arab and Muslim organizations are intensifying efforts to form the umbrella body, to be named the Council of Secular Muslims. The proposal to create an umbrella group to represent secular Muslims, thought to be backed by the Elysée, is dividing France’s sizable Muslim minority. The goal is to set up a body similar to the one which represents secular French Jews; Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF).

Secularists have planned to hold a major launch ceremony on March 25, inviting President Nicolas Sarkozy, his wife Carla and a number of French Muslim figures including football superstar Zinedine Zidane and famed actress Isabelle Adjani. French Muslims currently have one official representative body, the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), established in 2003. One source told Islam Online that CFCM leadership believes that by supporting the secular body, the president wants to curb the growing power of the CFCM.

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