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City of Paris seeks out new prayer spaces for Muslims

Source : Islam Today
Paris | 08 Jul 2011

A huge hangar, owned by the Ministry of Defence located near Porte des Poissonniers, in the 18th arrondissement of Paris, could well become a new place of Muslim worship in Paris.

In an attempt to allieviate the problem of prayer in the streets, the City of Paris is seeking ways of finding more prayer space without violating a 1905 law against the government supporting religions.

Insufficient number of places in the mosques of Paris has led the police headquarters in Paris to search for suitable premises. They identified the site in the 18th arrondissement as able to satisfy the needs of Muslims who pray every Friday at the Myrha Street mosque and the Polonceau Street mosque, both which have an overflow problem.

Daniel Vaillant, the Socialist mayor of the 18th district, assured that the move is being made to "solve the problem of street prayers."

The premises have recently been visited by Salah Hamza, rector of the Mosque of the Myrha Street mosque, and Moussa Diakite, rector of the Polonceau street mosque.

Part of the hangar is used by an association to house the homeless. The other, an area of ​​about 1500 m², has been unoccupied for two years.

A tentative occupation agreement should be signed between the city authorities and Muslim associations in return for which the latter will have to pay rent, the 1905 law prohibiting the state from financing religious groups. Development work to bring the premesis up to safety standards would be made by the state and passed on to the Muslim associations in the form of additional rent.

Meanwhile, the mayor has found another way to provide additional prayer space for Muslims in the neighborhood of La Goutte d'Or without controvening the 1905 law. He directed the building of Paris's Institute of Islamic Cultures and had two prayer rooms constructed as part of the institute's facilities. The rooms can accommodate nearly 1000 people each.

These two prayer rooms will be sold to Muslim organizations to the tune of "6 to 7 million euros," says Vaillant. "There is no question that the city would make it a gift," he took care to add.


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