Corridors of Power: the Muslim Vote in France, a CIA Recruitment Drive and More

Editor's Note: Corridor's of Power is written by veteran foreign correspondent Roland Flamini and appears in World Politics Review every Sunday. Click here to browse past installments of the column.

THEY CAN RIOT, BUT THEY CAN'T VOTE -- France's growing population of Islamic immigrants is now reckoned by some to make up almost 10 percent of the population, but the candidates in the coming presidential elections don't have to worry about the Islamic vote because there really isn't one -- yet. Though there may be as many as six million Muslims in France, almost half are not French citizens, and therefore do not have the right to vote. Voter turnout among Muslims who can vote is also lower than the national average, although ethnic rap groups have been trying to encourage young Muslims to register to vote so as to stop ultra-right-wing candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen, the French immigrants' worst nightmare.

There is no Islamic political party in France, or even one that at least represents the interests of French Muslims. The one aspiring Muslim presidential candidate, Soheib Benchkiekh, failed to get on the ballot. He is a non-fundamentalist -- and therefore non-threatening -- religious leader who favors integrating North African and other immigrants into French society. The long-term picture is politically more promising for Muslims, as the immigrant birth rate remains higher than the 1.6 percent national average. French born Muslims are entitled to citizenship even if their parents are not themselves citizens.

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