PARIS, France (Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - With their mosques bursting at the seams with worshippers, France’s Muslims are aspiring for stately mosques to meet the religious needs of the growing minority.
“There is an urgent need to increase the number of mosques being built,” Mohammed Moussaoui, President of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (FCMF), told in an interview.
Last month, Marine Le Pen, the then front-runner to become the leader of the far-right National Front, compared Muslim prayers on the streets to Nazi occupation.
“The overcrowded mosques are a real problem in France, even before Le Pen’s statements,” said Moussaoui.
“But we have to pay attention that she is against the building of mosques in the first place. She has reiterated more than once that France has “too” many mosques.
“The problem of this woman is that she does not want any Muslim presence in France,” he added, referring to Le Pen, who has already been elected the leader of the far-right National Front.
The Muslim leader, however, reiterated opposition to Muslim worshippers praying outside mosques on the streets.
“By all means, we do not accept that Muslims pray on the streets because this is an insult to Muslims,” Moussaoui said.
“Seeing Muslims praying on the streets is not proper for Muslims in addition to fueling hatred and hostility against Islam.”
France is home to a sizable Muslim minority of six million, the largest in Europe.
French Muslims have only 1,500 prayer houses, most of which are housed in small, modest halls, often described as “basement mosques.”
In Paris, where the Muslim population is denser than elsewhere in France, there is only one grand mosque, the Great Mosque of Paris, far away from immigrant-heavy neighborhoods.
The Muslim leader praised government efforts to fight anti-Muslim sentiments in France.
“I believe that French authorities have taken major steps (in fighting Islamophobia),” he said, citing recent bans on anti-Muslim protests ahead of an anti-Islam conference last month.
Far-right groups from across Europe held an anti-Islam conference in France last month to stop what they say “Islamization of Europe”.
“The authorities have also adopted new measures to calculate hate attacks against Muslims, such as the case with Jews,” said Moussaoui.
Last June, French authorities signed a “framework convention” with Muslim leaders to help log anti-Muslim attacks in the country.
“This is unprecedented in the relations between Muslims and the authorities,” Moussaoui said.
“Before signing the agreement, anti-Muslim assaults were…never considered hate acts against Islamic symbols and worship places.
“But now, these assaults are considered as targeting Islam, as the case with Jews about calculating anti-Semitic attacks.”
The FCMF leader said that Muslim councils will be established in every French region to better report about anti-Muslim attacks in the European country.
“In this regard, we are also mulling some tools to monitor some mosques that are feared to be the target of attacks,” he said.
“We are discussing these tools with mosque officials.”
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