Provence & Côte D`Azur: The new mega mosque will cater for 7,000 Muslims
French Court approves Marseille’s mega-mosque
Situated in the north of Marseille in Saint Louis, the new grand mosque will cater for 7,000 worshippers, feature a 25 metre high minaret and cover an area of over 90,000 sqare foot. The mega construction will also boast a new Koranic school, library and restaurant.
The court approval marked a breakthrough for French Muslims, who for almost 60 years have campaigned for a mega mosque in France’s second largest city, hoping to reunite Muslims and promote a positive image of Islam.
Marseille is home to around 250,000 Muslims, many of whom tend to congregate in small and cluttered makeshift prayer rooms, usually in cellars, basements and garages. For years, there has been numerous debates on how far the French government will go to accommodate Islam - now the second biggest religion in France.
The mega mosque was granted a construction permit in 2009 but had been put on hold due to a number of issues. For example, on 27th October 2011, the administrative tribunal of Marseille had rejected the construction permit due to failures to meet urban planning requirements.
There has also reportedly been numerous complaints from local citizens, who claimed that the mosque would not fit in well with the surrounding environment. For instance, local butcher Pierre Metras led a strong campaign against the Mosque, claiming that it would destroy the economic and social standing of the neighbourhood.
The National Front has also not stopped campaigning against the project and has also filed a number of complaints, which were rejected in December 2011 by France’s administrative court.
Head of the Marseille Mosque association, Abderrahman Ghoul, hailed the court's approval as "excellent news". "The case was in the hands of the courts, we had total confidence", he told French media, AFP.
However, the 20 million euro project is proving difficult to fund with only 200,000 euros of donations so far. A large amount of the money is coming from other countries, including Algeria, Saudi Arabia and other Middle-East and North African countries.
But architect Maxime Repaux is optimistic and says construction should commence at the beginning of 2013.