French Muslim leader calls for doubling mosques
Le Bourget, France – One of France’s top Muslim leaders has called for the number of mosques to double over the next two years to address the shortage of places of worship for the country’s millions of worshippers.
Speaking at a weekend gathering of French Islamic organizations, where participants demanded respect in the face of an increase in anti-Muslim attacks, Dalil Boubakeur said the country’s 2,200 mosques did not adequately represent the largest Muslim community in Europe.
“We need to double (that number) within two years,” said the head of the French Muslim Council and rector of the Paris mosque in the town of Le Bourget, near the capital.
“There are a lot of prayer halls, unfinished mosques, and there are a lot of mosques that are not built,” he added on Saturday at the Muslim gathering, billed as the largest in the Western world.
This annual convention of the Union of Islamic Organizations of France (UOIF), which brings together more than 250 Muslim associations, comes just months after jihadist gunmen killed 17 people in Paris and the Paris region.
Since then, Islamophobia has risen sharply in France, with 167 acts or threats against mosques recorded in January alone, compared to just 14 in the same month last year.
France has a long and difficult relationship with its Muslim minority – currently estimated at between four and five million – that dates back to bloody struggles in its former colonies in North Africa and the legacy of immigrants trapped in some of the poorest neighborhoods. from the country.
Long decades of insurrection against French rule in Algeria in the mid-twentieth century, followed by a series of Algerian extremist attacks in France in the 1990s created difficulties for community relations – which awoke with the rise global jihadism after 9/11.