My money is on, ‘this won’t work at all’
(ANSAmed) – PARIS – A large hangar on the outskirts of Paris could be turned into a place of worship for Muslims, with the city’s police keen to stop members of the community from praying on the streets. Police authorities have already identified a former barracks that could hold the large number of worshippers who meet every Friday in Rue Myrha and Rue Polonceau, in the multi-ethnic Goutte d’Or area in the north of the city. Prayers take place in the middle of the road because the nearby mosques are too small to deal with the numbers.
The situation, which has been going on for some time, has led to traffic and public order problems, with some local residents on a war footing. The leader of the far-right National Front party, Marine Le Pen, has even drawn on the issue as part of her campaign for the 2012 Presidential elections. The government of President Nicolas Sarkozy, mindful of losing votes, has promised to resolve the issue.
Today’s Libération newspaper says that the police have found a huge hangar that could be turned into a makeshift mosque: a disused barracks near Porte des Poissonniers, between the road heading north out of Paris and the Périphérique, the city’s famous ring road. Yesterday, the Imam of the small mosque on Rue Myrha, Hamza Salah, visited the proposed new site. Moussa Diakité, the Imam of the mosque on Rue Polonceau, visited the hangar a few days ago.
The building is owned by the Ministry of Defence and part of it is already occupied by an association that provides support for the homeless. The other part, some 1,500 square metres, is currently unused. The plan would see the area shared between North African Muslims from the Rue Myrha mosque with sub-Saharan Muslims from the Rue Polonceau.