22 January 2017

A mosque is at the center of a raw debate in the South of France

The Mosque En-Nour is hidden on the outskirts of town, tucked away in an anonymous office park behind the airport and off a highway. No feature betrays its identity; no sign marks its entrance.

Yet many people know exactly where to find it, and some are convinced that it has to go. On two occasions since it opened in June, nearby residents, to humiliate worshipers, have left the bloodied heads of pigs outside the mosque’s door. Shortly thereafter, regional authorities resumed their push to shut it down, after nearly 15 years of trying — and failing — to prevent it from opening.

.... Especially not after the terrorist attack in Nice in July, when one local Tunisian man, later claimed as a “soldier” by the Islamic State, plowed a rented truck through crowds of revelers gathered to celebrate France’s national holiday, killing 86 and injuring hundreds more.

Mosque En-Nour had only opened the month before the attack, but a growing number here began to view the notion of a large mosque — especially one housed in a building originally purchased by the Saudi minister of Islamic affairs — as further evidence of a fundamental incompatibility between the French Republic and its second-largest religion.

In the words of Estrosi, shortly thereafter: “We can’t go around proclaiming secularism everywhere and at the same time say that Islam and democracy are perfectly compatible.” [The Washington Post] Read more