The closure of a prayer hall in the northern Paris suburb of Clichy has outraged local Muslims, who began protesting by taking to the streets for their prayers.
The hall had been rented by the Union of Muslim Worship and Cultural Associations of Clichy-la-Garenne (UAMC) since May 2013, but its lease expired in 2016.
Mayor Rémi Muzeau now intends to turn it into a multimedia library for Clichy’s 60,000 residents.
The UAMC had been negotiating to stay in the facility, but a court of appeals ruled against the group.
The hall had also been used as a school to teach approximately 300 children Arabic and Islamic history classes. The loss of this educational center outraged parents.
“The social and educational role of our association is important, both for newcomers and for younger people,” said one local mother. “Our literacy classes offer a means of integration so that French becomes the language of choice in place of Arabic.”
According to local authorities, the Muslims are welcome to use the new Clichy Muslim Cultural and Worship Center (ACCCMC), but UAMC’s supporters complained that “it’s too small and too far away.”
“For women, the elderly, and children who travel by foot or by public transport in the evenings, it will be difficult for us to get there,” one UAMC member told reporters. “We will be out of the way and risk losing practitioners along the way.”
— Jonathan RT France (@Jonathan_RTfr) March 31, 2017
For the past ten days, protesters have been staging prayer sessions in front of the town hall, saying they will not leave until they get their prayer hall back.
Reports claim that approximately five million Muslims now live in France and that a shortage of mosques is causing them to pray in the streets.
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