Ban on Muslim Street Prayer Comes into Effect in France

News Agencies – September 16, 2011


A ban on saying prayers in the street, a practice by French Muslims unable to find space in mosques, has come into effect in Paris. Interior Minister Claude Gueant has offered believers the use of a disused fire brigade barracks instead. The phenomenon of street prayers, which see Muslims spreading mats on footpaths, became a political issue after far right protests.

Mr Gueant said about 1,000 people were using two streets in the capital’s multi-ethnic Goutte d’Or district for prayers. An agreement has been reached with two local mosques for the state to rent out the disused barracks on Boulevard Ney with floorspace of 2,000 sq m for three years.

To encourage believers to use the new space, prayers would not be held inside the existing mosques for the first few weeks. Gueant said he did not believe force would have to be used to impose the ban because dialogue was “bearing fruit”. An overseer at the barracks said the space, with a capacity of 2,000, was full. He added that similar problems with street prayers existed in two other cities, Marseille and Nice.

Dutch Town Sounds Call to Prayer

25 August 2011


The Dutch town of Doetinchem sounded a call to prayer on September 4 as a part of an inter-religious service during a local festival. The call joins the ringing of church bells and precedes a service led by Muslim, Catholic and Protestant leaders. Event organizer Joop Sars notes that festival organizers wanted to demonstrate that the town is a tolerant space where diverse communities live and confirm their faiths side by side. 

Toronto Protesters Oppose Muslim Prayer in Public School

The Toronto Star – July 25, 2011


About 100 protesters, many from groups such as the Jewish Defense League, the Christian Heritage Party and Canadian Hindu Advocacy, came to the Toronto District School Board to protest its approval of formal Friday prayer services for Muslim students at Valley Park Middle School.

Previously those students had left their school to attend prayers at a nearby mosque on Fridays. Bringing an imam into the school was a means of preventing some of the approximately 300 Muslim students from failing to return to classes after those prayers, said school board director Chris Spence. It also meant they don’t have to cross a busy street. Valley Park has been holding the prayers in the cafeteria for three years and there have been no complaints within the school community of about 1,200.

Speaking to reporters inside the board office, Spence said schools have an obligation to religious accommodation. But, “accommodation is fluid. It’s not written in stone,” said Spence, who added the board is feeling its way on the difficult issue.

Controversy over Public Prayer for Bin Laden

04.05.2011, 05.05.2011

Following the killing of Bin Laden, the radical Islamic prayer Pierre Vogel is planning a public funeral prayer for the leader of Al Qaeda in Frankfurt/ Main on Saturday. The city’s authorities, however, have prohibited the public prayer for Bin Laden, as it can be understood as a public ridicule of the victims of 9/11 and other terror attacks by Islamic radicals. Yet, Vogel argued that the prayer was not meant to be a defense of the 9/11 attacks. According to him, Bin Laden, as a Muslim, had the right to receive a prayer.

Vogel’s plans have not only been welcomed, but also criticized for its potential of public provocation within his own ranks and by other Muslim organizations, such as Milli Görus.

Following the ban of the funeral prayer by the city’s authorities, Vogel slightly changed the agenda for his public appearance to a general prayer, without reference to Bin Laden. This is in line with a number of orders issued by the administrative court to prevent the funeral prayer for Bin Laden.

Prayer in the streets not an issue in Strasbourg, France

December 22, 2010
The Muslim community in Strasbourg is waiting for the inauguration of its large mosque, expected in 2011 after several years of construction. The president of the Regional Council of the Muslim Faith, Driss Ayachour, notes that “to my knowledge, there aren’t any issues, with the exception of certain holidays when the prayer space is not sufficient, which means that people extend out into the street.”

French Politician Compares Muslim Prayer to German Occupation

News Agencies – December 11, 2010

The daughter of French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, who hopes to succeed her father as head of his Front National party, has compared Muslims praying in the street to the German occupation during World War II. Claiming that Islamic prayers are held in the streets in 10-15 locations in France, Marine Le Pen told a meeting of about 300 party faithful in Lyon that “… neighbourhoods where religious law applies, that’s an occupation”.
Earlier in the meeting, Le Pen had compared the war to the economic crisis, which the Front blames on globalisation and immigration, Le Monde reports.

Kebab, Yoghurt, and Prayer

28 October 2010

Seen from the outside, other than a sign on a wooden door, nothing seems to indicate that the Eyüp Sultan Camii in Graz is a mosque. The local imam, Fevzi Karatas, explains that a mosque is simply a space for prayer, and “in the time of the prophet Muhammad, the mosque was a tent.”
Karatas comes from Vorarlberg, though his parents are from Turkey, where he also studied theology and statistics before returning to become an imam in 2000. In his opinion there are no tensions, either with the local community or the authorities. However, in order to fight the fear that some people have of Islam they open the doors three times a year and invite the neighbors. “We are a part of Graz, we aren’t foreigners, we aren’t extremists, we pay taxes and just want to be practice our religion.”
After prayer the canteen serves kebab and ayran – “many people come here not just to pray, but to talk as well,” says Karatas.

Finland’s only proper mosque is in the small town of Järvenpää Helsingin Sanomat

So far there is only the one purpose-built mosque in Finland, the Järvenpää Mosque, which was erected in the 1940s. The timber-framed building also includes a small minaret, but as in most non-Muslim countries, the call for prayer from the minaret is not permitted.

The Järvenpää Mosque belongs to the Islamic congregation of Finland’s Tatars, established in 1925. “Apart from the one actual mosque, we can only speak of prayer-houses here in Finland. The majority of the country’s just under forty houses of prayer are in the capital area”, says the Finnish Islamic Association spokesperson Isra Lehtinen.

In the Helsinki region there are seven sizeable Muslim mosques. Prayer-houses have been set up, for example, in converted bank branches and in old cinemas. Finland is home to an estimated population of 40,000 Muslims — the same size as the total population of the town of Järvenpää.

Medina Ball Hockey League Breaks for Prayer in East Toronto

The Milliken Mills Community Centre in Markham, Ontario is home to an active mostly-Muslim ball hockey league. The Madina league has eight teams, each with about 16 to 18 players. They meet every Friday night in Markham, battling towards the Madina Cup in mid-August. “The best time to play ball hockey is the nighttime, around the sunset or after the sunset,” because there are fewer prayers, said Habib, 33, as the players, bowing on a white mat in the corner of the rink, observe the fourth prayer of the day. Players shout encouragement, but there is little to no swearing. Swearing in tournament play will result in a penalty and could mean a suspension, said Habib. “We are trying to teach the religion as much as possible, and that is hard to do if you are allowing bodychecks or fighting.”

There are more than 400 Muslims playing organized ball hockey across Greater Toronto, and interest in the connection between the community and the sport is at a high. Last month, the Toronto Maple Leafs drafted their first Muslim player, Nazem Kadri.

Video here

Vandalism in a Muslim Prayer Room in the Rhone Valley

A small fire in the mosque’s washroom as well as Nazi inscriptions were among the vandalism found in a Muslim prayer room in Meyzieu in the Rhone region of France. The mayor of Meyzieu, Michel Forissier, told the press that these degradations should not impede the official inauguration of the prayer hall at the beginning of Ramadan. Forissier added that there was no official opposition to the building of the 300 m2 mosque in the commune.

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