(Photo: Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes)
French staff managers have increasingly been reporting faith-related problems at the work place, a new study released on Tuesday showed, with many incidents relating to Muslims trying to force others to observe their practices.
Forty-three percent of staff managers reported faith-related problems at work, Reuters reported on the study by university researchers in Rennes and the international recruitment agency Randstad, and 41 percent expected the problem to continue in the future.
"These initial results show the issue of religion at work exists and is not a marginal question," the study reportedly says.
According to the CIA World Factbook, five to 10 percent of the French population is Muslim – between five and six million, the largest in Western Europe.
The researchers claim that many problems have stemmed from adherents trying to force their beliefs on others. The study apparently says that some strict Muslims have been trying to prevent non-observant Muslims from eating at work during the holy period of Ramadan. Others have insisted on praying and wearing religious garbs at work.
Some Muslim men have refused to shake hands or take orders from female bosses, and others have refused handling alcohol or pork products.
The issue affected larger cities, with rural areas and smaller towns experiencing fewer problems, as reported by Reuters. A minority of religious demands at work also came from orthodox Jews and evangelical Christians.
The French government has had to deal with controversy over its repeated attempts to ban headscarves and other religious garments from being worn in public. In March 2004, the government overwhelmingly approved a ban on Islamic garments and other religious symbols, including Christian crosses, from being worn in state schools. The law was signed by former President Jacques Chirac, while current President Francois Hollande has also voiced his support for further curbs on headscarves.
Full-face veils, such as burkas and niqabs, are already banned in public places, something which Muslims have repeatedly voiced their opposition to.
BBC News noted that as much as 80 percent of French society supports the ban on women wearing Islamic headscarvess to work.