Thousands of Muslims hit streets of Paris over plans to turn mosque into high-tech library

SHAFAQNA – More than 1,000 French Muslims took to the streets on Saturday to protest against the local government’s plans to convert their local mosque into a high-tech library.

The protest was organised by the UAMC, a local Islamic association, and was peaceful, police officials told the French daily Le Parisien.

In 2015, Rémi Muzeau, the left-wing mayor of Clichy-sous-Bois, a drab suburb north-east of Paris, refused to renew the lease for mosque.

Mr Muzeau took the decision to convert the prayer hall into a modern library, triggering discontent among local Muslims, who claim that the new building that they are being moved to is “tiny”.

Hamid Kazed, the president of the UAMC, said: “We have nothing against Mr Muzeau and we have nothing against the new library. But there are 20,000 Muslims in Clichy-sous-Bois, and all they need is somewhere to pray. We need a large mosque with room for all worshippers.”

Mr Kazed also claims that the former Clichy-sous-Bois mayor, Socialist Gilles Catoire, told UAMC chiefs in 2013 that they would be able to buy the multi-purpose building once their lease had come to an end.

But Mr Catoire’s promise was never fulfilled and, instead, his successor chose to shut down the mosque, and to evict its Muslim tenants.

Mr Muzeau, did, however, offer to convert another local building into a mosque: a building which, according to the UAMC, is “inappropriate, too far, and too small”.

“No one will be able to get to the new mosque. It’s too far and isn’t close to any trains or buses.”

Mr Muzeau, for his part, denies the accusations made against him, and told the AFP news agency that the new mosque “had its own parking lot, was big enough, and was close to good transport links”.

At the start of the month, the State Council, France’s highest administrate court, ruled that Clichy-sous-Bois officials could turn the mosque into a library, and that the Socialist mayor could push ahead with the eviction.

But Moundji Maoui, the UAMC’s lawyer, contested the supreme court’s ruling, and the final decision on her appeal will be announced at the end of next week.

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