While France is a model of centralized law, its Alsace- Moselle region differs, especially on the question of religion and politics. The region has German in 1905 when the French passed legislation separating church and state; today the local government continues to provide a wide variety of subsidies and even religious education in public schools. Fouad Douai, in charge of a bid to build a mosque in the city of Strasbourg, noted that the region “is a model for inter-religious dialogue, which is much stronger here than in the rest of France.”
In 1998, the heads of the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Calvinist Churches, as well as members of the Jewish minority signed a letter to the local goverment supporting the construction of the mosque. The mosque’s construction has faced obstacles, however. Construction of the mosque began in 2007 but has now stalled with only the foundation completed. Similarly, in public elementary schools a weekly hour of religion class is required for all students, although their parents can request their children not attend. While there are classes for Catholics, Protestants and Jews, Muslims can take a secular ethics class instead.
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