France, the country with the largest Islamic community in Europe, has seen a demonstration led by some 100 lawmakers in Clichy, a Paris suburb, who disrupted a traditional Friday prayer involving Muslims who had been using a public space for their religious needs since March, when a local mosque was closed.
Singing “La Marseillaise” and holding banners reading “Stop Illegal Street Prayers” among others, the officials tried to stop a group of some 200 males, chanting “Allahu Akbar,” from praying.
Explaining the reason for the push to prevent prayers in the street, Mayor Remi Muzeau, who spearheaded the protest, stated he “must assure the tranquility and freedom of the people in my city. … We must not allow this to happen in our country. Our country, the French Republic is tarnished.””
He added that the action could be repeated every Friday if needed.
Hamid Kazed, the head of the Union of Muslim Associations of Clichy, accused the lawmakers of an attempt “to divide the citizens” and added that “we are not fundamentalists.”
Police managed to separate the opposing groups and averted injuries, and the Muslims managed to hold their prayers.
READ MORE: Case of Muslim Marines Savagely Abused by Instructors Exposes Hazing in US Army
Muslims have prayed every Friday in front of the local town hall for eight months after a mosque was closed and turned into a library after a court battle.