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Muslims Protest with Street Prayer in Paris Suburb

PARIS (AP) — Hemmed in and closely watched by police, hundreds of Muslims have unrolled rugs and mats and prayed outdoors in the busy streets of a Paris suburb to protest the closure of their prayer hall.

The show of strength Friday by throngs of worshippers in Clichy highlights a long-standing issue for France’s Muslim community, estimated at 5 million people: a shortage of mosques.

Clichy City Hall wants to turn the rented prayer hall the worshippers were using into a multimedia library for the town’s 60,000 residents.

It says Muslims can worship at a new Islamic cultural and prayer center, already used by hundreds of people, the town inaugurated last year.

Far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has decried such street prayers to fuel her anti-immigrant, anti-Islam discourse.

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