Meeting Place for Muslims and Non-Muslims
Strasbourg (France): Amidst tensions surrounding France’s growing Muslim minority, the Great Mosque of Strasbourg has become a meeting place for the French to meet their Muslim neighbours, The Washington Post reported. “From the very beginning, we wanted to be open to the people around us,” said Aalla, a Strasbourg jurist who is president of the mosque’s governing council. Built within 2 kms from Strasbourg’s celebrated cathedral, Notre Dame of Strasbourg, the mosque helped thousands of tourists who began asking for directions at the Strasbourg Tourism Office. More than 20,000 visitors inspected the construction site of the mosque, between July 2011 and July 2012. Abdel Rahman Binjalloun, a Moroccan-born pharmacist who doubles as a guide, leads tourists across the mosque, answering their questions about Islam and Muslims.” For decades, Strasbourg was restricted to Roman Catholicism, Lutheranism, Calvinism and Judaism. It was only in 1998, that the heads of the Roman Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church, the Calvinist Church and the Jewish minority signed a letter to the local government supporting the construction of a mosque. They said Islam, the religion of a sizable community in the region, must enjoy comparable status with the four official religions. France is home to a Muslim minority of six million, Europe’s largest.