A mere three months after the lethal Islamist terror attacks in Paris at the Charlie Hebdo headquarters and a kosher supermarket, heads of the Muslim community in France are demanding "to double the number of mosques in the state" - and they have support from a French minister.
Dalil Boubakeur, president of the French Muslim Council, said this week that France needs to double its current 2,200 mosques to a total of 4,400 within two years, citing skyrocketing population rates as justification for the construction boom.
Boubakeur said there are seven million French Muslims, although official figures indicate between five and six million; however, French government censuses generally do not query respondents on religion.
The demand was given surprising support on Tuesday from Thierry Mandon, the French minister of simplification, who claimed in an interview with the iTele TV channel that a shortage in "decent" mosques was partially causing Islamic radicalization.
"There aren't enough mosques in France," Mandon claimed. "There are still too many towns where the Muslim religion is practiced in conditions that are not decent."
Mandon also referred to the response of France's far-right National Front party, which called the idea of doubling the number of mosques "ludicrous and dangerous." It noted the funding for mosque construction at least partially comes from organizations "which have links with the worst jihadist movements in the world, (and) is a clear threat to national security."
The minister of simplification called the concerns "ridiculous" and counterproductive.
"The more you let the Muslims of France pray in cellars and garages, the more you hold a mirror up to discrimination that is the basis of anger and fertile ground for radicalization," he claimed. "That is a fault. On the contrary, we must open up."