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Though the French State is secular, in recent years the government has tried to organize a representation of the French Muslims.In 2002, the then Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy initiated the creation of a "French Council of the Muslim Faith" (Conseil Français du Culte Musulman – CFCM), though wide criticism claimed this would only encourage communitarianism.However, many live alone in housing projects, having now lost their ties with their countries of origin.The situation was different with the "second generation", born in France, and as such French citizens by jus soli influenced law.In 1976, the government passed a law allowing families of these immigrants to settle; thus, many children and wives moved to France.
The French polling company IFOP estimated in 2016 that French Muslims number between 3 and 4 millions, and criticised suggestions of a fr:grand remplacement.The Christian population was temporarily evacuated, and Toulon Cathedral was briefly converted into a mosque until the Ottomans left the city.After the expulsion of the Moriscos from Spain in 1609–1614, about fifty thousand Moriscos entered France, according to the research of Henri Lapeyre.Among Muslims, 36% described themselves as "observant believers", and 20% claimed to go regularly to the mosque for the Friday service. This would amount to a number of roughly 1.5 million French Muslims who are "observant believers", another 1.5 million who identify with Islam enough to observe Ramadan, and 1 million citizens of "(Islam observing lineage) Muslim extraction" but with no strong religious or cultural ties to Islam.The number of people of Islam observing lineage who are practicing Roman Catholics is negligible.
Nicolas Sarkozy's views on laïcité have been widely criticized by left- and right-wing members of parliament; more specifically, he was accused, during the creation of the CFCM, of favoring the more extreme sectors of Muslim representation in the Council, in particular the UOIF.