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French Muslims called to join protest against gay marriage

BY NATASHA BARSOTTI — In the wake of predominantly Catholic-led protests that have drawn thousands to the streets of various French cities to protest the government's push to legalize gay marriage, Muslims are being urged to join opposition to the plan, Reuters reports.

According to the report, 50 Muslim activists have sent out a letter, calling on fellow Muslims to participate in a protest against the government's bill in Paris on Jan 13.

"We will protest on January 13 by joining a pluralist campaign to preserve the traditional framework of marriage," the letter states, according to Reuters. "We invite all French Muslims to turn out in large numbers."

The letter follows an earlier call by the Union of French Islamic Organizations (UOIF) to followers to join Sunday's "March for All." The UOIF statement, which says the measure will "disrupt family and social structures and civil law dangerously and irreparably," echoes the sentiment of Paris's Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, who called gay marriage "a sham" that would "shake one of the foundations of our society." 

But Reuters also reports that even as the leaders of almost all the major faiths in France have publicly opposed the bill, Vingt-Trois, Chief Rabbi Gilles Bernheim and French Muslim Council head Mohammed Moussaoui have indicated they will not join the street protest.

Approximately 2,000 mayors have signed a petition asking that they be
exempted from officiating at gay marriages should the government's
measure pass.   

In November, Social Affairs Minister Marisol Touraine said that while she respects
protesters' concerns, the government will not scrap its bill, which
is set for debate in the National Assembly Jan 29.  

Polls show that most French people support gay marriage, and the government enjoys a "comfortable majority" in parliament to ensure the bill passes, Reuters notes. 

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