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French Muslim leaders call for more mosques

Amar Lasfar, president of the UOIF
Amar Lasfar, president of the UOIF AFP

The head of the French Council of the Muslim Faith has called for double the number of mosques in the country in the next two years.

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Speaking during the annual meeting of the Union of Islamic Organisations of France (UOIF) on Saturday, Dalil Boubakeur, who is also rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, said that 2,200 mosques are not enough for the 5 million Muslims living in France.

“We have a lot of meeting places and unfinished mosques, and there are a lot of mosques that are not yet built. I think the number of mosques should double,” Le Figaro quoted him as saying at the gathering of French Islamic organisations in the Paris suburb of Le Bourget.

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Amar Lasfar, president of the UOIF, took to the stage to condemn January’s terror attacks on the offices of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket, which have resulted in a surge of anti-Muslim attacks.

"We denounce terrorism, we denounce the barbarity as Muslim citizens," he said.

"We are loyal with respect to our country that is France. We love God, we love our prophet, but we also love the French Republic.”

Lasfar also stressed the need for more places of worship. He called for greater respect for Muslims in the country, pointing to some mayors' refusal to have mosques built and resistance to halal meals being served in schools.

"It is necessary that the number of mosques reflects the number of Muslims,” he said.

“We have the right to build mosques, and for mayors not to oppose it.”

The far-right Front National party has said in a statement that the Muslim leaders' proposal is “irresponsible” because it does not specify who would fund the construction of new mosques.

The party led by Marine Le Pen said the mosques could be used as recruitment points for terrorists and reiterated its proposal to freeze all mosque projects currently underway, calling it a matter of national security.

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