PARIS – The French Interior minister announced on Sunday, November 19, that the authorities will stop Muslims from praying on the streets in a Paris suburb, promising to find them an alternative.
“They will not have prayers on the street, we will prevent street praying,” Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told Questions Politics (Franceinfo, France Inter, Le Monde), Agence France Presse (AFP) reported.
Prayers in the street have been the norm, taking place every Friday in the multiethnic suburb of Clichy-la-Garenne, since March to protest the closure of a popular local mosque that had operated in a government building but since been turned into a library.
Muslims have accused the authorities of not offering a suitable area to build a new mosque.
Acknowledging the problem, Collomb promised to find Muslims an alternative.
“Muslims must have a place of worship to pray,” he said.
“We will make sure we resolve this conflict in the next few weeks,” he added.
The comments followed a recent row in which a group of 100 local French lawmakers interrupted Muslim Friday prayer earlier this month.
Worshippers have taken to the streets to pray in recent years often in protest over the shortage of mosques.
In 2015 there were calls by some in the Muslim community to turn some of the country’s many empty churches into mosques, which drew much opposition on the right.
Also in 2010, prayers in the street became a national issue when Marine Le Pen provoked outrage by comparing street prayers to the Second World War, likening them to an “occupation.”