In an interview with the French weekly newsmagazine Le Nouvel Observateur, Alain Krauth, the parish priest of the largest Catholic church in Vierzon, said: “The Christian community is not as important as it used to be in the past. If moderate Muslims buy Saint-Eloi’s, we can only be happy that the Muslims of Vierzon are able to celebrate their religion.” His comments were greeted with outrage by local citizens who are now trying to prevent the church from becoming a mosque.
Similar scenes are being played out across France.
In the nearby city of Poitiers, around 70 members of a conservative youth group known as Generation Identityrecently occupied a mosque that is being built in the heavily Muslim Buxerolles district of the city. The dawn raid on October 21 was intended as a protest against Islam’s growing influence in France.
The protesters climbed onto the roof of the mosque (photos here) and unfurled a banner with the symbolic phrase “732 Generation Identity,” a reference to the year 732, when Charles Martel halted the advance of the invading Muslim army to the north of Poitiers (also known as the Battle of Tours.)
Meanwhile, the Socialist government in France recently inaugurated a new mega-mosque in Paris as a first step towards “progressively building a French Islam.”
The new mosque, located in the northern Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise, is not only vast in its dimensions (photos here), but is also highly visible and symbolic: its towering minaret, which has purposely been designed to change the suburb’s skyline by being taller than any church steeple in the neighborhood, is supposed to become the “new symbol of Islam in France.”
Speaking on behalf of French President François Hollande at the inauguration ceremony of the mosque in Cergy,French Interior Minister Manuel Valls articulated the Socialist government’s policy vis-à-vis the construction of new mosques in France. He declared: “A mosque, when it is erected in the city, says a simple thing: Islam has its place in France.”
Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.
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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