Interior Minister: France To Stop Muslims Praying In The Street

 

France will stop Muslims from praying in a Paris suburb, the interior minister has said, following skirmishes between worshippers and authorities.

Tensions have grown in recent weeks, with residents of the multi-ethnic Clichy-la-Garenne protesting street-prayers.

Worshippers began praying on the roads in March to protest the closure of a local mosque which was turned into a library.

The dispute underlined mosque shortages in the country and worshippers accused authorities of not offering land suitable land for Islamic centres.

“They will not have prayers on the street, we will prevent street praying,” Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told Questions Politics.

Yet he acknowledged the need for more mosques, saying: “Muslims must have a place to pray”. He promised to resolve the conflict within the coming weeks.

Earlier in November, right-wing mayor Remi Muzeau led around 100 people in a demonstration against street-prayers.

As worshippers chanted “Allahhu akbar”, or “God is great”, the protesters – some holding crucifixes aloft – sang the French national anthem.

Police with shields intervened to separate the two groups, and the Muslims were able to continue their prayers.

Building new mosques for France’s estimated five-million Muslims is controversial in the secular country, which strictly regulates religious expressions.

Muslims in a number of towns have resorted to praying in the streets, fuelling anti-Islam sentiment touted by France’s Front National (FN).

FN leader Marine Le Pen in 2011 compared Muslims praying in the streets to Nazi occupation during the Second World War. She was prosecuted for inciting hatred, but later acquitted.

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