Claude Gueant, France's interior minister is facing legal action after declaring that the "growing" number of Muslims in France posed "a problem".
"It's true that the increase in the number of faithful in (Islam), a certain number of behaviours, poses a problem," he said on Monday.
Singling out the "problem" of Muslims praying in the street, he said that France's secular law dates from 1905 when there were "very few Muslims", while their number today is between five and six million. The anti-racism group SOS Racisme said it would be launching legal action against Mr Gueant for inciting racial hatred.
The proposals discussed last night included banning Muslim mothers from wearing headscarves when accompanying school field trips, and preventing parents from taking their children out of compulsory subjects like gym and biology.
UMP leader Jean-Francois Copé denied the debate was an attempt to woo National Front voters. "They denounce (Muslim practices). We are making proposals" to ease social tensions, he said.
Mr Gueant's interior ministry predecessor Brice Hortefeux was also charged with racism after being caught on camera saying of Muslims: "When there's one that's OK, it's when there are several that it becomes problematic."
He was later convicted and fined £2,300.
The row of Mr Guéant's words came as the ruling UMP party held a controversial debate on Islam and secularism in France. It came up with 26 proposals, including a possible law banning people from rejecting doctors because of their sex or religion.
Muslim leaders refused to take part. Fouad Alaoui, president of the Union of Islamic Organisations in France, said Mr Guéants comments "show once again that the logic of the (far-Right) National Front is taking over".
Several polls put Marine Le Pen, the new National Front leader, ahead of President Nicolas Sarkozy in a hypothetical first round presidential election. The real elections take place next year.
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