France has a sizable Muslim population - the largest community in Europe - but not enough mosques to hold them, according to a top official in a top French Muslim organization. To correct that, says Dalil Boubakeur, president of the French Muslim Council, France needs to double its current mosques to 4,400.
“We need double” the current 2,200 mosques in the country “within two years," Boubakeur told a convention of Muslims over the weekend. “There are a lot of prayer rooms, of unfinished mosques, and there are a lot of mosques that are not being built," the France 24 network quoted him as saying at the 32nd Annual Gathering of French Muslims, where members of over 250 Muslim groups representing the country's Muslims.
The last time a census of the Muslim population in France was conducted was in 2010, with Muslims numbering over 4 million people, or 7.5% of the population. Given their natural growth rate, they are expected to reach 10% of the total population by 2030, but that percentage could grow even further if immigration increases. French government censuses generally do not query respondents on religion.
Supporting the call for more mosques is one of the leaders of France's Catholics, Monsignor Ribadeau-Dumas, spokesperson for the Bishops' Conference of France. “Muslims should, like Christians and Jews, be able to practise their religion,” France 24 quoted him as saying.
In a statement, France's far-right National Front party called the idea of building more mosques in France “ludicrous and dangerous.” The funding for construction of mosques is not clear, and at least some of the money, the group said, was coming from organizations “which have links with the worst jihadist movements in the world, (and) is a clear threat to national security.”
Recent polls suggest that French Muslims or Frenchman of Muslim origin are are much more likely to hold anti-Semitic views than the general French population.
In one survey, 1,005 respondents from the general population were asked a set of questions about their attitudes toward Jews. Their responses were compared with the answers of 575 people, either Muslim or born to a Muslim family, who were asked the same questions.
The anti-Semitic trope that Jews control the media received an approval rating of 23% in the general French population and 70% among practicing Muslims. 32% of respondents among the general population agreed with the statement that "Jews use to their own benefit their status as victims of the Nazi genocide." This is compared to 56% percent of respondents from the Muslim contingency as well as among citizens who voted for the far-right National Front party in 2012.
Among voters of the far-left Front de-Gauche party, the claim had a 51% approval rating.