President Nicolas Sarkozy has told French Muslims that they have "the right to live their faith" in France and expressed hope that a divisive debate over halal meat in the presidential campaign has not been hurtful.
Sarkozy spoke Wednesday at the Grand Mosque of Paris where he inaugurated a memorial to Muslim soldiers who died for France during World War I.
Far-right National Front candidate Marine Le Pen criticized what she claims is an inundation of halal meat in the Paris region. Sarkozy followed by saying he wants meat marked so consumers know what they're eating.
Polls place Sarkozy in second place behind Socialist candidate Francois Hollande. Trying to gain ground ahead of the April 22 and May 6 balloting, Sarkozy has taken up some extreme-right themes.