French Muslims in the southeastern city of Villeurbanne will no longer be crammed into vault prayer rooms or perform the weekly Friday prayer in the open as a grand mosque, accommodating 1,000 worshipers, opens its doors on Sunday, April 2.
"Villeurbanne now has a mosque in the true, literal sense of the word," Azzedin Gaci, the imam of the new mosque and the chairman of the French Council for Muslim Faith (CFCM) chapter in the Rhone Alpes province, told IslamOnline.net.
"A handful of Muslim places of worship in France can be called mosques," Gaci said.
"French Muslims are entitled to establish grand mosques to be a source of pride for both Muslims and Islam."
The three-storey Othman Mosque is built on 1,200 square meters with a huge library, school and a parking lot.
Gaci said what is unique about the new mosque is its absolute financial independence. "It is 100 percent funded by French Muslims and has received no foreign aid," he added. The Islamic Cultural League in France, which supervised the construction of the Othman Mosque, raised one million euros for the project from French Muslims. "This financial independence will consequently make the mosque politically independent from any foreign influences," said Gaci.
"It is open for all Muslims irrespective of their ethnic or communal backgrounds. It is, in fact, a stepping stone towards a 'French Islam' as the problems facing Muslims here are purely French."
Note: A 'grand mosque', also known as 'Friday mosque' is the mosque where the Muslim community congregates for Friday prayers.
Source: Islam Online (English)