PARIS- Paris’s famed Louvre museum this week opens a new wing of Islamic art in a bid to improve knowledge of a religion often viewed with suspicion in the West. Costing nearly 100million euros, it is funded by the French government and supported by handsome endowments from KSA, Morocco, Kuwait, Oman and Azerbaijan. About 3,000 precious works from the seventh to the 19th centuries are spread across 3,000 square metres over two levels. The exhibits will be rotated. The project was a brainchild of French former president Jacques Chirac and dates back to 2001. It groups 18,000 treasures from an area spanning from Europe to India and includes the oldest love missive in the Islamic world. France is home to at least four million Muslims and leaders of the community say incidents of ‘Islamophobia’ are on the rise against a background of confrontation with the authorities and rising suspicion of Muslims. Many Muslims in France have been angered by legislation banning women from wearing full veils and this year’s elections were marked by debate over the use of halal methods of animal slaughter. The tensions were highlighted by the one of the main movers behind the project, Sophie Makariou, the head of the department of Islamic arts at the Louvre, who said the aim is to show a “Islam with a capital I.” “That means the civilisation as a whole, not with a small ‘i’ designating just the religious sphere,” she said.