CAIRO – A new mosque in French Riviera ready for inauguration since last November is facing opposition from the mayor of Nice who is set to sue the French state over it, sparking criticism from the city population.
“It is a stigmatizing approach, you point the finger at a whole community,” the opposition councilor Patrick Allemand said, accusing the mayor of “feeding populism”, The Local.fr reported.
The “En-Nour” mosque in Nice is an impressive modern construction that was finished since last November.
The downstairs hall, lit by a huge skylight, boasts an area of 350 meters squares and can accommodate almost 900 worshippers.
On the second floor there is a reading room for children, a library, and a separate prayer room for women.
Though its construction has been finalized months ago, the mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi is still standing in the way of it opening.
The mayor, who represents France’s centre-right The Republicans party, got the green light on Monday to sue the French state in a bid to block the opening of the mosque.
He has long claimed that the project was unauthorized from the beginning, which was back in 2002 before he came to power.
He also accused the owner of the mosque, Saudi Arabia’s Islamic Affairs Minister Sheikh Saleh bin Abdulaziz, of “advocating shari`ah” and wanting to “destroy all of the churches on the Arabian peninsula”.
Feiza Ben Mohamed of the Muslim Federation of the South (FMS) said that Estrosi “completely obscured” the fact that the mosque had sent its financial records in to authorities already.
“He doesn’t want the mosque because he wants to start something instead where he can stick his nose in the affairs of the Muslim faith,” he told the RFI channel.
Despite of the mayor’s opposition, the locals in Nice have shown their support for the mosque, with a petition in its support garnering over 2,000 signatures.
The city currently has only one small place for prayer, while worshippers are forced to spill out on the street at peak praying times.
For his part, Prefect Adolphe Colrat has already given conditional approval for the opening of the mosque.
He said the mosque “doesn’t depend on any foreign influence” and called for it to be a beacon of Muslim worship in Nice and the region.