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In France, US advocacy for Muslim rights raises more than a few hackles

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"They are criticizing us because we are not the United States, or more precisely, because we do not resemble them,” blogger Christine Tasin wrote on a website for The Republican Resistance, a nonpartisan group established last year to defend what it sees as French values. “[It] is a strategic plan to get France to do whatever the US wants.”

US seeks support among Europe's Muslims

American support for Dahhasi’s association is part of a broader program of public diplomacy created across Europe after the 9/11 attacks on the US to diffuse the threat of terrorism. A US embassy official in Paris says it was designed to “create mutual understanding” and to “show people there’s no good reason to fly airplanes into skyscrapers."

It has focused on seeking out and building relationships with potential leaders in Muslim and other minority groups. A key component has been the International Visitor Leadership Program, which for decades has sent members of the French elite on educational visits to the US. Its pre-2001 French alumni are nearly exclusively white. Last year, about a third of French participants belonged to minority groups, mostly Muslims.

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