Hege Storhaug, HRS
Den franske regjeringen satte nylig foten ned for gatebønnene i Paris sine gater. Bakgrunnen for gatebønnene skal være for få moskeer. Dette til tross for at det mellom 2001 og 2006 ble bygd rundt 500 nye moskeer, og at det per i dag skal være rundt 2 000 moskeer i landet. Samtidig planlegger muslimske ledere ytterligere 2 000 nye moskeer i årene som kommer. Dette skjer parallelt med at den katolske kirken i Frankrike kun har bygd 20 nye kirker det siste tiåret, mens 60 kirker formelt er lagt ned.
While 64 percent of French people describe themselves as Roman Catholic, only 2.9 percent of the population actually practice the Catholic faith. That compares to 3.8 percent of the population who practice the Muslim faith. The research was carried out by the French Institute of Public Opinion on behalf of the Catholic newspaper La Croix.
More worrying for Islamic authorities in France is the finding that only 41 percent of the country’s 6 million Muslims actually describe themselves as “practicing,” although 75 percent are happy to label themselves “believers.” Seventy-percent also claim to observe the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
Most French Muslims hail from the country’s former colonies in North and sub-Saharan Africa.
There is also further evidence that mosques are being erected at a much faster rate than Catholic churches. Mohammed Moussaoui, President of the Muslim Council of France, last month estimated that 150 new mosques are currently under construction across the country.
By contrast, the Catholic Church in France has built only 20 new churches during the past decade, and has formally closed more than 60 churches. Many of these are now destined to become mosques, according to La Croix.
Research in 2009 by the Amsterdam School for Social Science Research suggested that nearly 500 new mosques were built between 2001 and 2006, taking the present total to over 2,000. Many of these new buildings, however, were erected to re-accommodate local Islamic communities who had previously been using temporary accommodation – the so-called “Islam of the basements.”
One of France’s most prominent Muslim leaders, Dalil Boubakeur, who is the head of the Grand Mosque of Paris, recently called for the number of mosques in the country to be doubled again – to 4,000 – to meet growing demand.
In a bid to solve the space crisis in the southern city of Marseille, a mosque to accommodate 7,000 worshippers is currently being built. Twenty-five percent of Marseille’s population is Muslim.
Last month a mosque for 2,000 worshippers opened in the eastern town of Strasbourg, where 15 percent of the population is Muslim.
France is often referred to as the “eldest daughter of the Catholic Church,” because the local Church has maintained unbroken communion with the Bishop of Rome since the 2nd century.
But some senior European bishops have long predicted the eclipse of Catholicism by Islam across the continent.