Praising the municipality of Strasbourg in northeastern France for offering 2.5 million euros ($ 3 million) for the construction of a mosque, Bekir Altas, secretary general of the Turkish-Muslim association IGMG , expressed concern about the rise of Islamophobic tendencies motivated by political demands.
Speaking to the Anadolu agency during his visit to the French city of Strasbourg, near the German border, Altas also rejected the accusations leveled against the IGMG by politicians.
He said that construction of the Eyup Sultan Mosque in Strasbourg, near the German border, will continue, although its completion will require an additional 8 million euros ($ 9.6 million). The total cost of construction has been set at 30 million euros ($ 36 million).
Altas said his organization had received donations from all over Europe for the construction of this mosque which included a historic contribution of 2.5 million euros ($ 3 million) from the municipality of Strasbourg.
“With this decision, they specifically declared that there was no discrimination between Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Islamic religious communities,” he said.
The president of the association of the Eyup Sultan mosque, Eyup Sahin, told the Anadolu agency that in October 2020, they had requested financial assistance from the municipality of Strasbourg for the construction of the mosque and that the municipality had accepted this request in March 2021.
Sahin said that after the move sparked controversy, they decided to withdraw the request for assistance because the elections were approaching and some politicians had turned the mosque into election propaganda.
He said that 70% of the construction of the mosque was completed and that the construction would be completed within a year.
Altas, said that with France’s presidential elections scheduled for 2022, Muslims do not want to play a decisive role in the conflicts between the country’s two main political parties.
Imposition of a populist charter-based decision
He said imposing Islam’s “charter of principles” on France, which they refused to sign because it alienates Muslims, is one of the populist decisions made by the government.
“The state does not interfere in the internal affairs of religious communities in accordance with the principle of secularism. The state has no say in how a religious community will train and approve its imams, and what values it will do its work on, ”he said.
He said they face accusations and criticism although they do their jobs transparently and within the law. Altas mentioned that Interior Minister Gerald Moussa Darmanin has drawn a profile that does not reflect the truth about IGMG.
He said that Darmanin’s actions against the Muslim community were not normal. He said the controversial anti-separatism bill affects not only Muslims but all religious communities because it violates the 1905 law on secularism.
“The religion-state relationship is being reshaped by Muslims. We see that we are in the process of determining how the understanding of secularism in France will be ”, he added.
“We see that we are really in the process of knowing how the understanding of secularism in France will be. There will be an understanding of secularism in France that excludes religion from the public sphere, or an understanding of secularism that cooperates with religious communities, ”he said.
Eyup Sultan Mosque will be the largest mosque in Europe once construction is completed.
Built according to Ottoman architecture, on 15 acres of land, the complex will include a mosque for 3,000 people, conference rooms, a school and a library, as well as parking with a capacity of 600 vehicles and bicycle parking. .
The Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summary form. Please contact us for subscription options.