French Muslims lacking enough mosques
A senior Muslim leader in France says the 2,200 mosques in the country do not adequately represent its millions of faithful, calling for the number to be doubled within two years.
Dalil Boubakeur, the head of the French Muslim Council and rector of the Great Mosque of Paris, made the comments in the town of Le Bourget near the capital during a weekend gathering of the Union of Islamic Organizations of France (UOIF), which brings together over 250 Muslim associations.
“We need double [the number of mosques] within two years,” he said, adding, “There are a lot of prayer rooms, of unfinished mosques, and there are a lot of mosques that are not being built.”
Amar Lasfar, the head of the UOIF also expressed support for Boubakeur’s stance, highlighting that the number of mosques in France should reflect the number of Muslims residing in the country.
“We have the right to build mosques, and for mayors not to oppose it,” Lasfar said.
According to the official estimate, between four and five million Muslims are living in France as the country has Europe’s largest Muslim community, but Muslim leaders say the real number is close to seven million.
Boubakeur, meanwhile, emphasized that the Muslim population in France must be respected.
“Islam is no longer an Islam stemming from immigration, it is a national Islam that has the right to the recognition and consideration of the French population, just like other communities in France,” he added.
The comments come in the wake of a sharp rise in the number of anti-Muslim incidents in France over the past months, with 167 acts against mosques or threats recorded in January 2015 alone.
Experts say anti-Muslim sentiments in the country could be seen in French mayors refusal to have mosques built around the country or resistance to halal meals being served in prisons or schools.
This is while French President Francois Hollande said in a January speech that the millions of Muslims in the country should be protected and respected, adding that any Islamophobic act would be “severely punished.”