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.