But the project has faced stiff opposition from local residents and businesses. Opponents of the Grand Mosque have argued that it would be out of harmony with the neighborhood’s economic and social fabric. The appeals court ruling, dated June 19, means that construction of the mosque can now continue unimpeded.
In October 2011, the French newspaper La Marseillaise published extracts of a leaked intelligence report about the rise of Islam in Marseille, which is now home to some 250,000 Muslims.
The confidential seven-page document, drafted by domestic intelligence in the French region of Bouches-du-Rhône in March 2011, warns against construction of the grand mosque: “This building would dominate an entire part of the city…it would be visible from most of the surrounding main roads…the mosque is generally considered aggressive to the point where a local referendum on the matter would give results at least equivalent and perhaps more pronounced than the voting organized in the Swiss confederation last year [the Swiss vote to ban minarets].”
The report also states that although “the number of individuals [in Marseille] who have been radicalized to the point of supporting the jihadists is relatively low, Islamic fundamentalism has progressed to the point where it has won over the majority of the Muslim population.”
The report describes the Muslim population of Marseille as a “marginalized population, poorly informed, uncultured and with a limited understanding even of their own religion, finding themselves in the hands of self-appointed imams who are no more competent than their flocks but sufficiently charismatic to obtain their obedience.”
The document concludes by stating that Muslims in France appear to want the state to intervene in religious matters: “It is interesting to note that the majority of Muslims find it natural for the state to organize religious practice, even by force if necessary, and that many of them even declare that they do not understand the neutrality of France in this matter.”
The same might be said of the French Socialist Party, which, thanks to ideology and political expediency, is increasingly inclined to accommodate Muslim demands. During his election campaign, Hollande offered an amnesty to all of the estimated 400,000 illegal Muslim immigrants currently in France. He also pledged to change French electoral laws so that Muslim residents without French citizenship would be allowed to vote in municipal elections as of 2014.
These measures, if implemented, would enable the Socialist Party tighten its grip on political power, both at the regional and national levels. As the politically active Muslim population in France continues to swell, and as most Muslims in the country vote for Socialist and left-wing parties, conservative parties will find it increasingly difficult to win future elections in France.
One of the predictable outcomes of this political backscratching will be the construction of more government-sponsored mosques in France, all in the name of multiculturalism, of course.
Originally published by the Gatestone Institute http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org
About the Author: The writer is the Senior Analyst for Transatlantic Relations at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group, one of the oldest and most influential foreign policy think tanks in Spain.
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