Muslims who have been praying in the streets of a Paris neighborhood have been offered a disused barracks to pray in, French Interior Minister Claude Guéant announced Monday. Muslim leaders have visited the site and agreed that it is suitable, he said.
“Praying in the street is something that is not acceptable,”, insisting that it is contrary to the French state’s secular principles. “It has to stop.”
Muslims have been praying in public in two streets in Paris’s 18th arrondissement – rues Myrha and Polonceau – for some time because the local mosques are not big enough.
The practice prompted an attempt, backed by far-right, Islamophobic groups, to organize a sausage and wine street party, which was banned by city authorities but spawned copycat events elsewhere. Front National leader Marine le Pen revived the controversy last December when she compared it to the German occupation in World War II.
French Muslim leaders have visited a former barracks in the same arrondissement and agreed that it is appropriate, according to Guéant, who says that it will be ready for use on 16 September.
Announcements that the practice must end will be made throughout the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, he said.
Measures are being taken to find a similar solution in France’s second city of Marseille, where prayers in the street are also reported to take place.