Paris prayer protest: 'In France we do not worship in the street'

Paris prayer protest: 'In France we do not worship in the street' November 12, 2017

A ‘bizarre’ confrontation took place in the Paris suburb of Clichy on Friday when a French mayor and dozens of MPs and elected councillors tried to stop around 200 Muslims from praying in a street.
According to this report, Théo Maneval, a reporter for the Europe1 radio news site, described the scenes as “bizarre” and “surreal” as the elected officials, singing the Marseillaise, appeared to try and physically displace those praying by cleaving a path right through them.
Maneval tweeted:

It’s getting even more surreal, as the elected officials with their sashes try to jostle the people praying. Movement of crowd, jostling, people falling … The police intervene.

The local right wing mayor Remi Muzeau led the march to protest against the presence of hundreds of Muslim worshippers who have been praying in the town’s market square every Friday for the past nine months. Muzeau was happy with the way thing went:

We did what the police should have done a long time ago.

A line of riot police separated the two groups and at one one point tensions appeared ready to boil over.

Muslim worshippers had been using the square to pray in a protest against a recent decision by the mayor to close their usual prayer hall nearby, which had welcomed up to 5,000 Muslim worshippers each day.
Authorities opened a new mosque for the community, but it was 1.5km away and worshippers said it was hard to reach. Their Friday protests have been aimed at pressuring the local council to agree to open a prayer hall in the centre of Clichy.
But those protests have infuriated local officials, who have called on the government to intervene, pointing out that praying in the street is illegal in France.
Said President of Île-de-France Valerie Pecresse:

The public space cannot be taken over illegally. We are in a country where we do not pray in the street, the rules of law are being flouted.

France’s far right leader Marine Le Pen, who has long spoken out against Muslims praying in the street was quick to seize on the incident. She tweeted:

The Republic must go on the offensive in the face of Islamist provocations. What is the Minister of the Interior waiting for to restore public order and secularism? Laxity is not an option.

Rows over Muslims praying in public flare up regularly in strictly secular France. Worshippers have taken to the streets to pray in recent years often in protest over the shortage of mosques.
In 2015 there were calls by some in the Muslim community to turn some of the country’s many empty churches into mosques, which drew much opposition on the right.
And in 2010, prayers in the street became a national issue when Marine Le Pen provoked outrage by comparing street prayers to the Second World War, likening them to an “occupation.”

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  • L.Long

    Religious aholes feeling privileged decide to stop all traffic thru a city square while showing a mythic creature their aholes because they can’t walk 2000steps down a road.
    Why not just move the coffee table aside and do your BS in the living room?
    Why did they close the prayer hall? Different issue…sue the government!

  • L.Long

    And the opposition to use closed churches as prayer halls points to the bigotry of the locals as well. But then ‘turn churches into mosques’ should NOT mean just give them away! Make the muslins pay fair value for the property and this money goes to the state, as the church lived high on no taxes long enough!

  • Broga

    The exhibitionism of this ridiculous posturing of the arses in the air is blatant. No, we are not impressed. Embarrassed maybe? Irritated by the nuisance caused, certainly.

  • andym

    Agreed Broga, but should they be banned?The same laws regarding gatherings and public nuisance should be applied as they would to any other public demonstration. I don’t think that public prayer per se should be illegal-or specially protected either .

  • Smokey

    I’m reminded of the part in the bible that says you shouldn’t pray in public, because it’s hypocritical. Fortunately they’re using a different book.
    My life feels so empty since I don’t have a centuries-old book to tell me how to live and what to think. I haz a sad.

  • John the Drunkard

    Sounds like foolish escalation. Why and how was their previous location closed? If they had an indoor space for their jiggery-pokery, what was wrong with it?
    Coopting public space for specific sectarian purposes isn’t acceptable. But the report here implies that they’re ratcheting up a clash that others started.

  • barriejohn

    We are in a country where we do not pray in the street.
    Undoubtedly wrong, and he means that they do not have Muslims praying in the street. I agree with other comments here; annoying thought these very public displays of sanctimony are – as is street preaching – they shouldn’t be banned, though the police may be in the wrong for allowing an obstruction of the highway. Politicians are riding a dangerous wave of nationalism in Europe at the moment – ironic as we approach the one hundredth anniversary of the end of World War One.
    “Pure Poland, white Poland”

  • 1859

    I can just imagine the French police using water cannons on all these up-turned arses – that would make a great photo. But blocking the road as a religious demonstration should certainly not be allowed. Why doesn’t the council put on a few buses to take these rationally blind devotees down the road to the new mosque?
    However, what this little ‘spat’ portends is, perhaps, the shape of things to come – especially when the avowed aim of many militant muslims is to ‘out-breed’ the indigenous European populations. What will happen in these sleepy French towns when muslims out-number the French citizens? Will the muslims be so integrated they will embrace all the deep libertarian and democratic values of a country whose revolution once inspired the world? I doubt it.

  • Maggie

    At least someone is doing something. Multiple streets in London are blocked on multiple days – where, of course, they get special privileges.

  • Laura Roberts

    The irony is, if you go to a liberal Muslim country like Morocco, you’ll hear calls to prayer, but catch a glimpse inside a Mosque and you’re likely to find it nearly empty. I suspect the majority of Muslims emigrating to Europe are similarly liberal, and the reason we see “devout” Muslims ostentatiously praying in the streets is because they’ve been made to feel marginalised. The best way to inculcate immigrants into our culture may be to make the path away from Islam as welcoming and supportive as possible.

  • 1859

    @ Laura R: I understand the point you’re trying to make, but wouldn’t such muslim immigrants immediately feel that they were being surreptitiously ‘christianised’. And with the death penalty for muslim apostates hanging over their heads, there is probably more chance of turning cricket bats into apple pies. But you are right – anything that marginalises or alienates potentially ‘liberal’ muslims, is a step in the wrong direction.

  • barriejohn

    Laura: That’s a great point, and reminded me of something that has perplexed me for years. We moved to an expanding town in southern England in 1958, which is when I became seriously involved with the Plymouth Brethren. Many others were attracted there from areas like Belfast, Newcastle, and London of course (where “slums” were being cleared – many now converted to expensive apartments!), and Christian families joined the “assemblies” in the town. It became obvious that many of these Christians had only been nominal members of their churches “back home”, as they would have put it, but now became very enthusiastic and active members of their new churches. I wonder whether this had something to do with feelings of alienation in a completely new environment, and whether they were searching for a new identity in the town, especially on soulless housing estates with little sense of community yet? I might also add (though I do realize that this is all anecdotal evidence) that Polish and Irish churches and community centres were full to overflowing at that time (the Polish community having settled in the town after the War). You’ve certainly provided food for thought there, and I wonder whether others have anything to add on this subject. I certainly agree that it is very dangerous to the cohesion of society to make any group feel that they are “outsiders” and under siege, especially, as others have noted here before, testosterone-filled young men!

  • David Anderson

    “Authorities opened a new mosque for the community, but it was 1.5km away and worshippers said it was hard to reach.”
    So the authorities did accommodate these fuckwits but they are too lazy or incapable of walking, riding a bike or driving a car for 1.5km. Still I suppose that spending most of your life with your nose in a book and your arse in the air does rob you of some basic human skills.

  • gedediah

    Ugh, fascists using any excuse to disadvantage groups they don’t like. I’m with the muslims on this one. Let them set up equivalent facilities that other religious groups enjoy, no more, no less, and have done with it.

  • sailor1031

    @Gedediah: They already have. They built a new mosque a whole mile away. If that doesn’t suit then maybe they need to do what other groups have to do – buy the land where they want it if they can and build at their own expense. A whole mile away! now there’s oppression for ya!

  • 1859

    The new mosque is not 1 ‘mile’ away it is 1.5 km away. That’s 1500 metres. An average male – without hurrying – can walk about 10 metres every 8 seconds. So walking to the new mosque would take 8 X 150 seconds = 1200 seconds. This in minutes is 1200/60 = 20 minutes. Not much to sacrifice if you were really committed to your god?

  • sailor1031

    Okay – it’s 0.93 miles away then.

  • 1859

    Sorry sailor I was not getting at your ‘mile’ – I was trying to show how short a walk it was, especially if you pretend to be so, so committed to your nut-job in the sky.