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French Turks Cling To Homeland Traditions

   
InternationalThousands of miles away from their homeland, members of the Turkish community in France remain adherent to their traditions and customs, particularly during the Muslimsí holy month of Ramadan.

"French Turks brought their religious, linguistic and social heritage with them to the European country," Haidar Demirerk, Secretary General of the French Council for the Muslim Religion (CFCM)

This is even more evident during Ramadan," said Demirerk, also chairman of the coordination committee for Turkish Muslims in France.

Turks in France take special pride in their mother tongue.

They print Ramadan calendars in Turkish, unlike Moroccans who print them in both Arabic and French.

Demirerk said they use the Turkish language in the sermon delivered before the Tarawih prayer, the same with the Friday prayer.

Home Like

Halal Kebab restaurants in the Strasbourg Saint Demis neighborhood of Paris gives the district a distinctive Turkish aura.

"I feel like walking in Istanbul where you only hear people speaking Turkish," said29 -yrea-old Yassin, who works in one of the restaurants.

He noted that just like back home Kebab restaurants remain opened during the day always they remain largely deserted until after the Iftar (braking the fast).

Members of the Turkish community get together before the Iftar near Al-Fatih mosque and the Istanbul restaurant.

One will also get the feeling of being in Turkey when visiting the headquarters of the coordination committee for Turkish Muslims in France in Paris.

The entrance of the two-storey building is decorated with a big Turkish flag.

The committee, formed in2001 , supervises nearly 200 mosques and societies and is considered the official representative of the Turkish community in France.

It also has four representatives in the63 -member CFCM board.

Some observers believe this adherence to the Turkish lifestyle and traditions is worthy a study, because Turks manage to practice their religion and speak their mother tongue in a strictly secular society that strives against ethnic isolation.

Demirerk, however, attributes this to the general nature of the Turkish character and not necessarily to their religion.

He said 70 years under the Turkish secular regime helped Turks learn to adapt and live under any secular regime, without relinquishing their religious beliefs and traditions.

Demirerk noted that Turks in France steer away from participating in the political life and focus on cultural and religious aspects.

He put at 400000 the number of Turks living in France, including 60000 who have the French nationality.

According to the statistics of the French immigration center, the number of Turks who had permanent work contracts until 1962 did not exceed111 .

After France and Turkey signed a cooperation agreement in1966 , the number of Turkish immigrants rocketed to more than 18000 in1970 . In the early1990 s, the number reached200000
  

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