Proposed Minarets on Mosques Center of Public Debate

October 1, 2003

Source: The New York Times

On October 1, 2003 The New York Times reported that "while people here [France] have grudgingly accepted a growing Muslim presence in their midst, many still resent displays of religious and cultural symbols suggesting that the country's second largest and fastest growing religion is here to stay...Building mosques is highest on the Muslim agenda, both because of a physical need and a desire to demonstrate that the religion has incontestably arrived...dozens of mosque projects are making slow progress through France's formidable bureaucracy, and at least 10 of the planned buildings will be architecturally recognizable as mosques, with domes or minarets or both. The Cergy mosque, still at least two years from realization, has already excited passions and led one local opposition politician to warn that its minarets might rise higher than the town's church steeples. The comment won the town national attention: the conservative newspaper Le Figaro ran a cartoon of a priest and an imam cranking up the towers on their respective houses of worship, each trying to top the other...'A big mosque can change the silhouette of a neighborhood and the character of a town,' said Jean-Marie Chaussonnière, a white-haired Cergy lawyer who has emerged as the most vocal critic. 'I'm afraid it will only invite extremists.'"