PARIS : French Muslims were thrown into confusion Tuesday as the country’s top Islamic body and officials at the leading mosque in Paris differed over the start date of the holy month of Ramazan.

While the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), the official Islamic representative body, was insisting that Ramazan had started on Tuesday, the theological council at the Great Mosque of Paris said it would not start until Wednesday, when many Arab countries are due to begin the observance. The CFCM had in May settled on Tuesday as the start of Ramazan based on the expected arrival of the new moon, but theologians gathered Monday night at the Paris mosque put off the start by a day, saying the new moon had not been sighted.

“Mosques were calling us yesterday until 1:00 am, the imams were in disarray,” said Djelloul Seddiki, the head of the mosque’s theological council.

Dalil Boubakeur, who is both the president of the CFCM and the rector of the Paris mosque, said the change in date had followed an outcry in the community that Ramazan was not starting in France on the same day as in many Muslim countries.

“The calculation was not in theory wrong, but we did not take into account the community dimension - the community had decided it would follow the Muslim countries,” Boubakeur told AFP.

He said the confusion had been “a lesson” for French Islamic leaders and that it would be legitimate to start observing Ramazan on either day.

During Ramazan, Muslims are also required to abstain from drinking liquids, smoking and having sex from dawn until dusk. The fasting is one of the five main religious obligations under Islam.

France is home to western Europe’s largest Muslim minority, officially estimated at more than four million.