Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

WEB NEWS

France's top consumer group sues Internet giants

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users pay tribute to South Korea ferry victims

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

A landslide victory for the 'invisible candidate' in Algeria's Presidential polls

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 18 April 2014

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 18 April 2014 (part 2)

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Presidential adviser resigns over "shoe-shine scandal"

Read more

#THE 51%

Breaking stereotypes

Read more

#TECH 24

Galaxy S5 v. HTC One (M8): Which is the right one for you?

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

New PM Manuel Valls outlines priorities

Read more

  • The Great War's unsung four-legged heroes

    Read more

  • Freed French journalists arrive home after Syria ordeal

    Read more

  • French journalist tells of release from captivity in Syria

    Read more

  • Divers begin pulling bodies from sunken South Korean ferry

    Read more

  • Syria’s Assad visits recaptured Christian town at Easter

    Read more

  • UK’s Hamilton cruises to victory at Chinese Grand Prix

    Read more

  • Curfew call after deadly clash at Ukraine checkpoint

    Read more

  • In pictures: French kite festival takes flight

    Read more

  • Le Pen’s National Front fail to woo Britain’s Eurosceptics

    Read more

  • PSG clinch fourth League Cup title after beating Lyon

    Read more

  • Militants kill Algerian soldiers in deadly ambush

    Read more

  • Scores killed in South Sudan cattle raid

    Read more

  • VIDEO: Anti-Semitic leaflets in Eastern Ukraine condemned

    Read more

  • In pictures: Good Friday celebrated across the globe

    Read more

  • Bouteflika, the ghost president

    Read more

  • Does Valls’ upcoming Vatican trip violate French secularism?

    Read more

  • Ukraine separatists say ‘not bound’ by Geneva deal

    Read more

  • Abel Ferrara’s hotly awaited DSK film to premiere on web

    Read more

  • Obama signs bill to block controversial Iran diplomat from UN post

    Read more

  • Astronomers discover Earth-like planet that could support life

    Read more

  • In pictures: Iranian woman pardons son’s killer at the gallows

    Read more

France

French Muslims lay first stone of Marseille mega-mosque

©

Video by James ANDRE , Adel GASTEL

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-05-20

Muslims in the south of France marked the end of a 60-year campaign for a mega-mosque for Marseille, a city with a high Muslim population, as the first cornerstone for the building was laid on Thursday.

AFP -  French Muslims celebrated a milestone on Thursday when work began to build a Grand Mosque in Marseille, the country's biggest and a potent symbol of Islam's place in modern France.
  
A day after the French government approved a bill banning the full Islamic veil, Muslim leaders and local politicians hailed as "historic" the laying of the mosque's cornerstone at a dusty construction site in northern Marseille.
  
France's second city is home to 250,000 Muslims, many of whom flock to makeshift prayer houses in basements, rented rooms and dingy garages to worship.
  
With a minaret soaring 25 metres (82 feet) high, the Grand Mosque will hold up to 7,000 people in its prayer room and the complex will also boast a Koranic school, library, restaurant and tea room when it opens in 2012.
  
Muslims in Marseille have long campaigned for a mega-mosque as a prominent gathering place that would bring Islam out of the basements and allow it to thrive under the Mediterranean sun.
  
The turning point came in 2001 when Mayor Jean-Claude Gaudin, a member of President Nicolas Sarky's right-wing party, threw his weight behind the project, overriding objections from the far-right.
  
Like Sarkozy, Gaudin sees the new mosque as a way to help France's large Muslim minority integrate into the mainstream and foster a form of moderate, modern Islam that shuns burqas.
  
"The construction of this Grand Mosque will serve as a showcase for Marseille's Muslims to promote the true face of Islam, an enlightened Islam," said Mohamed Moussaoui, president of the French Council of the Muslim faith.
  
After years of delays, the project still faces hurdles to raise the full 22 million euros (27 million dollars) needed to finance it.
  
Nourredine Cheikh, an Algerian-born businessman and president of the association leading the campaign for the mosque, said his group is hoping for big donations from north African countries, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia.
  
Among the dozen diplomats from Muslim countries who attended the ceremony, Algerian Ambassador Missoum Sbih said Muslims in Marseille "could not do without a dignified place of worship" in France, which he described as "Europe's number one Muslim country."
  
Algeria will sit down with other donor countries to work out financing, he said.
  
The grand mosque will be built in the Saint-Louis area of Marseille, an ethnically mixed neighborhood that suffers from high unemployment and poverty.
  
Home to Europe's biggest Muslim minority, estimated at between five and six million, France has for years been debating how far it is willing to go to accommodate Islam, now the country's second religion.
  
Soon after Switzerland voted to ban minaret construction last year, Sarkozy warned French Muslims to "avoid ostentation" in the practice of their religion and he has declared the face-covering veil "not welcome" in France.
  
With parliament now set to debate a bill that would bar women from wearing the full Islamic veil, Muslim leaders worry about a surge of Islamophobia in France.
  
Last month, gunmen sprayed bullets across the facade of the Arrahma mosque in Istres, a town a few dozen kilometres from Marseille, raising alarm among Muslims.
  
Nadia Houte, a 31-year-old teacher, said the mosque would bring Muslims together and promote a positive image of Islam.
  
"We are Muslims, not fundamentalists," she said. "The burqa doesn't interest me. This has nothing to do with me."
  
There will be no blaring call to prayer from the Grand Mosque's minaret, but simply a blue light that will flash five times a day to summon the Marseille faithful.

Date created : 2010-05-20

Comments

COMMENT(S)