French authorities have banned mass Muslim prayers from a Paris street after clashes between worshippers and protesters angry their public square had turned into an open air mosque.
French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb confirmed the move and said local police authorities have the power to forcibly act this Friday.
“They will not have prayers on the street, we will prevent street praying,” Collomb told Franceinfo. “We will make sure we resolve this conflict in the next few weeks.”
Illegal street prayers have been a Friday feature in the suburb of Clichy-la-Garenne for the last nine months as Muslims protested the closure of a local mosque that had operated in a government-owned building.
In March, French police forcibly evicted the group known as the Union of Muslim Associations of Clichy (UAMC), ahead of the site’s conversion into a public media space.
Muslim worshippers accuse authorities of not offering suitable land to build a new mosque.
As Breitbart News reported, around 60 French conservatives, led by local mayor Remi Muzeau, sang the French national anthem, the Marseillaise, in defiance of the praying Muslims on November 10.
Muzeau was joined by other members of Les Républicains, the party of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, wearing tricolore sashes, including the president of the greater Paris region of Île-de-France, Valerie Pecresse, Le Parisien reports.
2 rangées de gendarmes protègent les musulmans qui continuent à prier, alors que les militants de @Forces_Laiques s’indignent: “La République ne doit pas cautionner des troubles à l’ordre public” pic.twitter.com/PjK3qlQgVE
— Stéphane Kovacs (@KovacsSt) November 10, 2017
After the protest had ended, the mayor took to Twitter posting pictures of the protest and writing: “Huge success for the gathering of the elected to support the rule of law and republican secularism. Stop the illegal street prayers! Thank you all for your fantastic support!”
Muzeau has argued that another mosque already exists north of the town, but mosque leaders have dismissed that idea as unviable, arguing it is too small and has poor transport links, according to AFP.
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