The issue of France's Muslims moved front and center into the presidential campaign with the incumbent, Nicolas Sarkozy, excluding on Saturday any special indulgences for halal meat or separate swimming hours for Muslim women in public pools.
"There is no place in the republic for xenophobia, there is no place for racism ... There is no place for pools with hours for men and hours for women," Sarkozy told a rally Saturday in Bordeaux.
"There is no taboo subject," Sarkozy said, suggesting that it is not in the nation's interest to be politically correct about immigration or about what some Muslims seek to conform to their religious beliefs or cultural mores.
He said issues like halal food in schools or special hours so that Muslim women can swim out of view of men are in contradiction with the French principle of secularism.
Such issues "should be considered not as religious facts, but as facts of civilization," he said.