Continued from page 1

Without mentioning any candidate’s name, the association accused some politicians of dividing the nation and “betraying the republican pact” and warned against “those hoping to win or retain power by stoking fear, xenophobia, the rejection of others.”

The Muslim vote

Muslims have no voting bloc, and political preferences apparently have been based on socioeconomic factors. But activists and researchers say there is an increasing tendency for the community to lean left in support of immigration.

“I prefer the left; I think when you’re born Lamia Messaoui, it can’t be any other way,” said Lamia Messaoui, a French business executive of Algerian descent. “Besides, for me, Sarkozy is not an option. His politics, even when he was the interior minister, his use of borderline expressions such as ‘of Muslim appearance,’ it’s just too much for me.”

In April 2007, polls found that French Muslims voted mainly for the Socialist presidential candidate: Segolene Royal won 64 percent of their vote, while Mr. Sarkozy got just 1 percent in the first round and 5 percent in the second.

“People who would have originally voted for the center or the right-wing are now determined to vote against Nicolas Sarkozy,” Ms. Lorcerie said.

“However, this is a short-term response to the current anti-Muslim craze. In the long run, votes of Muslims and citizens of North African and African decent will eventually blend into the overall trends of the French society.”

For now, French Muslims, like a slim majority of their compatriots, seem to prefer Socialist Francois Hollande: He is the clear front-runner in the runoff on May 6, according to polls.

“Hollande said he will lower rents and bills. That’s what everybody cares about because our salaries aren’t enough to make ends meet,” said Chaker Alain, 28, a Parisian born to French parents of North African descent. “Besides, when you listen to the right-wing speeches, the way they call immigrants and their religion every name, automatically you lean toward the left.”