3/2/2022 10:58:34 AM
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This year marks the 100th anniversary of the construction of the mosque, which is one of the largest in Europe and the oldest in mainland France. It was erected in response to a swelling of the Muslim population in the French capital.
Many of the city's newcomers came from French territories in Africa, particularly Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.
More than 400 artisans from North Africa were employed in the construction of the mosque, which was dedicated to the many Muslim soldiers who fought and died for France during the First World War.
A century on, France has an uneasy and often adversarial relationship with Islam.
Last year, French President Emmanuel Macron drafted a new law giving his government greater power over the operation of mosques, including restrictions on foreign funding.
France’s Muslim community has long argued that it has become difficult to open a new mosque or run an existing one and these proposed restrictions would only exacerbate those challenges.
This may be part of the reason why France’s existing mosques are so treasured by those who frequent them. Given the hostility from the French state, it would be understandable if the country’s mosques closed themselves off to outsiders.
Thankfully, the Grand Mosque of Paris has headed in the opposite direction. It embraces visitors, inviting all beyond its whitewashed walls to absorb the majesty within.