France inaugurates first official Muslim cemetery

News Agencies – February 6, 2012

France inaugurated its first municipal Muslim cemetery in the city of Strasbourg, a move hailed by Islamic leaders as a step in recognizing one of the country’s largest minority groups. Local officials and Muslim leaders attended a ceremony in the northeastern French city to launch the cemetery, which has space for about 1,000 graves. Mohammed Moussaoui, the head of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, hailed the cemetery’s opening as a “historic” moment for Muslims in France and said it was “an important symbol of belonging” for the community.

“If a religious community is to feel entirely at home in a city, it must be helped in building places for worship and for the burial of its believers,” said Strasbourg Mayor Roland Ries. France’s 1905 law on the separation of church and state forbids the building of municipal cemeteries restricted to only one religion. But the Alsace-Moselle region, which includes Strasbourg, operates under different basic laws dating from its reversion from German to French control after World War I.

First Muslim cemetery opens in Strasbourg, France

News Agencies – January 5, 2012

The first Muslim cemetery will be inaugurated in Strasbourg on February 6, 2012. The cemetery will have place for 1000 graves. It is the first to be established by a French municipality, and was made possible by the special local laws of the region, which do not recognize separation of Church and State. Elsewhere in the country, there are Muslim plots in other cemeteries.

Anne-Pernelle Richardot, deputy mayor of Strasbourg, says that Islam is not a recognized religion, but that they try to bring it up to the same level as the recognized religions, using the local laws. The municipality invested 800,000 Euros in the cemetery. There are eight Muslim plots elsewhere in Strasbourg cemeteries, but they’ve gotten to full capacity in recent years.

Saïd Alla, president of the Grand Mosque of Strasbourg, says that the Muslim community had settled permanently in France and want to bury their relatives at home, not a thousand kilometers away. “It’s the ultimate gesture of good integration, it shows that you belong to the country in which you live.”

Montbeliard, France mosque damaged in attack

News Agencies – November 10, 2011

A mosque in eastern France was damaged after unknown attackers set fire to the building using a burning rubbish bin. The head of the mosque in Montbeliard, located about 170 kilometres south of Strasbourg, near the German border, discovered the fire when he arrived to open the building for morning prayers. One wall was badly damaged. The attack on the mosque is the second in a month. A group calling itself Les Echappees Belles (The Lucky Escapes) claimed responsibility for the incident in tracts left near the mosque. The group – believed to be a group of women loosely influenced by right-wing extremists – had claimed responsibility for setting fire to the mosque’s van in October. Police are investigating the incident.

180 Moroccan Imams sent to France for Ramadan

Au Fait Maroc – August 26, 2011

 

180 imams have arrived from Morocco to assist in the gatherings around the month of Ramadan, a tradition that has taken place over a number of years according to CFCM (French Council of the Muslim Faith) leader, Mohamed Moussaoui. 25,000 copies of Qur’an edited in Morocco have come with these holy leaders. Many will go to the newly opened Mosque of Strasbourg whose 8.7 million euro cost was partially funded by the government of Morocco, assistance which is possible because of the exceptional legal status of the Alsace-Moselle region.

French couple in Britain in legal challenge to veil ban

A French Muslim husband and wife living in Britain are to challenge France’s ban on full-face coverings at the European Court of Human Rights. The couple lodged an application at the Strasbourg court to challenge the French government over the ban on wearing Islamic veils, which they argue is “unnecessary, disproportionate and unlawful.”

They claim it restricts their right to free movement across the EU, according to documents sent to the court. The wife is seeking £10,000 (11,200 euros, $16,400) in damages for the alleged human rights breach. The couple live in central England with their two children. They have chosen to remain anonymous, citing “considerable hostility” in Britain and France to Muslim women wearing the full veil in public.

In the latest case, the documents sent to Strasbourg say the couple want to “reside and work in France” but the ban means “they have considerable reservations about living there on a permanent basis.” The principal applicant is the husband who “expects and instructs” his wife to wear the burqa and the niqab. But she “respects and follows” her husband’s instructions of her own free will, the Strasbourg court is being told. Her lawyers argue Muslim women in France are “not able to exercise their rights free from coercion, harassment and discrimination.”

 

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.”

Fire Damages Mosque in Haguenau, Outside of Strasbourg, France

Liberation – November 18, 2010

Driss Ayachour, president of the Regional Council of the Alsatian Muslim Faith has requested calm following a fire at a mosque in Haguenau, 30 kilometers outside of Strasbourg. A fire in a garbage can was pushed against the door of the building and the prayer hall was damaged. An investigation is underway.

French police arrest man over Qur’an-burning video

News Agencies – October 3, 2010

French police have questioned a man over an online video which features someone burning a page of the Qur’an and urinating on its ashes, a French judicial officer says. The video which has since been removed from YouTube and Dailymotion shows a man tearing off a page of the Qur’an, making a paper plane and throwing it onto two glasses representing the World Trade Center. The man then burns the page and urinates onto its ashes. He shows his face to the camera at the beginning of the video, gives his name and says he lives in Bishheim, on the outskirts of Strasbourg.
The Muslim community in Strasbourg has been deeply angered by the online video. An official at the Strasbourg Mosque Abdeaziz Choukri says he discovered the video and called the authorities after discussing the footage with its alleged author.

Assailants topple 30 tombstones, scrawl swastikas at Muslim cemetery in northeast France

News Agencies – September 24, 2010
Unidentified assailants have toppled about 30 tombstones and scrawled swastikas into the ground at a Muslim cemetery plot in Strasbourg, in northeastern France. Mayor Roland Ries has denounced the desecration of the Muslim section of a cemetery in the city of Strasbourg as “an unbearable racist act.”
An umbrella group of French Muslim organizations, the CFCM (French Council of Muslim Faith) expressed its “indignation” about the vandalism overnight Thursday to Friday and called on authorities to track down and punish the attackers. France is home to Western Europe’s largest Jewish and Muslim populations, and there are occasional attacks on their schools, cemeteries or places of worship. Many go unsolved and unprosecuted.

Assailants topple 30 tombstones, scrawl swastikas at Muslim cemetery in northeast France

News Agencies – September 24, 2010
Unidentified assailants have toppled about 30 tombstones and scrawled swastikas into the ground at a Muslim cemetery plot in Strasbourg, in northeastern France. Mayor Roland Ries has denounced the desecration of the Muslim section of a cemetery in the city of Strasbourg as “an unbearable racist act.”
An umbrella group of French Muslim organizations, the CFCM (French Council of Muslim Faith) expressed its “indignation” about the vandalism overnight Thursday to Friday and called on authorities to track down and punish the attackers. France is home to Western Europe’s largest Jewish and Muslim populations, and there are occasional attacks on their schools, cemeteries or places of worship. Many go unsolved and unprosecuted.