|French politicians protest over Muslim street prayers in Paris|
Saturday, 11 November 2017
French politicians protest over Muslim street prayers in Paris
The politicians, wearing tricolor sashes of office and singing the national anthem, disrupted about 200 worshipers on a street in Clichy.
Police kept the two groups apart but some scuffles broke out.
Critics say the prayers are an unacceptable use of public space in France's strictly secular system.
The worshipers, however, say they have nowhere else to go since the town hall took over the room they used for prayers back in March.
France has about five million Muslims - the largest Muslim minority in Western Europe.
Image copyright AFP Image caption Muslims in Clichy say they no longer have access to a prayer room or mosque
"Public space cannot be taken over in this way," said Valérie Pécresse, president of the Paris regional council, who led Friday's protest by councilors and MPs mainly of the Center-right Republicans and UDI parties.
Rémi Muzeau, the right-wing mayor of Clichy, called on the interior ministry to ban the street prayers, adding: "I am responsible for guaranteeing the tranquility and freedom of everyone in my town."
One of the worshipers, named only as Abdelkader, told AFP news agency that they wanted a "dignified" place to worship and did not enjoy being in the street every Friday.
He said he resented the politicians singing the French national anthem during their protest.
"They were singing the Marseillaise, throwing it in our faces, even though we're French people here. We're French. Long live France!" he said.