The growing religious demands of Muslim workers at a car factory in Paris contributed to the plant’s closure in 2013, Drancy deputy-mayor Jean-Christophe Lagarde has disclosed.
Lagarde made the revelation during an appearance on public service broadcaster France Info on Tuesday, in which he was asked about “communitarian trends” in Islam, where communities are becoming more religious and more insular.
“Religion has nothing to do with work” began his response, but the Union of Democrats and Independents (UDI) president went on to admit that Islam has caused a number of problems related to employment in the state he represents.
“There were difficulties, including in my area, for example in Aulnay-sous-Bois. It was never said, but part of the PSA closure was down to the ubiquity of religion and the fact that there were religious demands at work, work stoppage, [and] loss of productivity,” he said.
RATP has also experienced difficulties with Muslim employees Lagarde noted, referring to known cases of radicalisation in the Paris transport company, which is said to employ a large number of Muslims who are watched by French intelligence as known extremists.
The PSA Group, a French car manufacturer who makes Peugeot and Citroën vehicles, shut its factory in Aulnay-sous-Bois in 2013. The plant was known for employing a large number of practising Muslims as workers.
In addition to having installed a prayer room in the 1980s, the factory’s menus and schedule, with regards to Ramadan, prayer breaks, and religious holidays, were all adapted for the convenience of Muslim staff members.
Drancy, where Lagarde is mayor, neighbours Aulnay-sous-Bois and is a commune in Paris’s northeastern suburbs in Seine-Saint-Denis, the most violent department in France. The area, where 36 per cent of residents were born abroad, has long been known as a trouble spot in Paris, with police regularly attacked and buses torched.
But a recent report, which revealed the suburb to be a “no-go zone” for women in which they are invisible in the streets and unwelcome in bars and cafes, caused a stir across the media, with politicians voicing their disgust.