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A local councillor representing Marine Le Pen’s far-right party, the Front National, has announced he has converted to Islam – and has urged fellow party members to do the same.

Maxence Buttey, 22, has been suspended from a regional Front National committee after he went public with his decision to convert to Islam and sent out a video that praised the teachings and beliefs of the Quran.

Mr Buttey, who is a councillor in the eastern Paris suburb, Noisy-le-grand, said the Front National and Islam had a lot in common.

He told French newspaper, Le Parisien: “Like Islam, the FN defends the weakest. The party denounces exorbitant interest rates charged on the debt of our country, and Islam is against the practice of usury.”

Many people were said to be very unhappy with his decision to mix religion and politics.

The party, which runs on an anti-immigration policy line, has no power to sack him from the post and he remains a councillor and a party member.

Buttey said he decided to convert after having a very long discussion with the local Imam while he was campaigning for his election.

“Some of my voters will be disappointed by my choice” he said. “But I’m ready to explain to them that Islam has a mission to unite all men and women.”

“I was Catholic but when I reread the Bible I noticed all its inconsistencies. When I read the Koran thoroughly, I understood that this religion is more open,” he said.

He added that he was against the niqab (full-face veil) and said that Islam did not call for believers “to cut off heads as the Islamic State group does.”

The country has Europe’s largest Muslim population, estimated at six million. France has banned the wearing of the niqab in public and headscarves in state schools