A new, modern-style, green-domed mosque opened today in the paris suburb of Cergy.
At 2,000 square metres, it has capacity for 1,500 people and cost 3.75 million euros to build.
The town of Cercy pitched in by guaranteeing half of a 2.2 million loan taken out by the Cergy Muslim Federation, and by leasing the land at a nominal price for 99 years. The rest came from donations from Federation members.
''It is our responsibility to progressively build a French Islam, one that will find put down roots in our country,'' said Interior Minister Manuel Valls, who attended the opening of the mosque.
Analysts say that the Interior Minister wants to show that he is not the enemy of the Muslims, despite his rigorous positions on Muslim immigration.
Cergy's Socialist Mayor, Dominique Lefebvre, who also attended the opening, said: "This was made possible by two things: Muslim unity, and political will.''
''We want it to be clear that we paid for this, through donations,'' Imam Tahar Mahdi said. French Muslims from all ethnic origins united to make the mosque a reality
There have been projects to build a mosque in Cergy since the 1980s. Lefebvre, who was elected Mayor in 1996, has played a fine balancing act with French law, which bans public funding of religious sites. The new mosque also has a cultural center, a tea room, a funeral parlor, and schoolrooms.
"Islam: Cergy Muslims finally have their mosque" ANSAmed July 6, 2012
"France : Manuel Valls Ã l'inauguration de la mosquÃ©e de Cergy" La rÃ©daction July 5, 2012
"Pour obtenir une mosquÃ©e, les musulmans de Cergy ont dÃ©passÃ© leurs divisions" July 5, 2012
Reproduced with permission from Islam Today