Tensions over Muslim street prayers north of Paris


Tensions over Muslim street prayers north of Paris

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Print this page Email A Friend!

CLICHY, France (AFP) — Around 100 local French lawmakers attempted to block Muslims praying in a street north of Paris yesterday and called on the Government to ban what they see as an unacceptable use of public space.

The lawmakers, led by the head of the regional government of the Paris area, Valerie Pecresse, disrupted the crowd of around 200 all-male devotees and sang the national anthem in the multiethnic Clichy suburb.

“Public space cannot be taken over in this way,” Pecresse said at the demonstration alongside the right wing mayor of Clichy, Remi Muzeau, who, like other lawmakers, wore a sash in the national colours of blue, white and red.

Prayers in the street have taken place every Friday in Clichy since March, to protest the closure of a popular local mosque that had operated in a government building.

The interior ministry “must ban street prayers”, Muzeau told reporters at the scene yesterday. “I am responsible for guaranteeing the tranquility and freedom of everyone in my town.”

The former mosque, run by the Union of Clichy Muslim Associations, was used by 3,000 to 5,000 Muslims daily before the mayor's office reclaimed the building and turned it into a library.

Muzeau says that local Muslims have been urged to use a new 1,500-square-metre (16,000 square feet) mosque nearby, but many are refusing to go there.

France has Europe's largest Muslim community, estimated at around five million, and concern about the religion challenging the country's strict secular laws was a major theme in this year's presidential election.

Muslim religious leaders complain that not enough space is made available for those wanting to attend services, but building new mosques remains controversial, with the influential far-right National Front (FN) particularly hostile.

In 2011, FN leader Marine Le Pen compared the sight of Muslims praying on the streets to the occupation of France by the Nazis in World War II, leading her to be prosecuted — and acquitted — for inciting hatred.

Abdelkader, a Clichy resident who was praying in the street on Friday, told AFP that he wanted a “dignified” place to worship, as Christians and Jews enjoy in France, and said that nobody liked being in the street surrounded by police every Friday.

He also resented the lawmakers singing the national anthem during their protest.

“They were singing the Marseillaise, throwing it in our faces, even though we're French people here. We're French. Long live France!” he said.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaper-login




1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

comments powered by Disqus



Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon