Council funding of Strasbourg mosque provokes row with French interior minister

By Guillaume Krempp and Jean-François Gérard (Rue 89 Strasbourg)

Councillors in Strasbourg have just voted through a 2.5 million euro grant to help build a new mosque in the city in north-east France, a region where unlike the rest of the country the law permits local authorities to fund religious buildings. However, the move by the Green-run council immediately attracted the ire of France's interior minister Gérald Darmanin because the group behind the mosque, Confédération Islamique Milli Görüs (CIMG), is a Franco-Turkish association which has refused to sign the government's new “charter of principles” for Islam in France. The minister, who is championing the government's new law against 'separatism', is now threatening legal action. Report by Guillaume Krempp and Jean-François Gérard of Mediapart's partners in the city, Rue 89 Strasbourg.

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The decision had already caused some misgivings within the ranks of the ruling majority on Strasbourg city council, headed by Green mayor Jeanne Barseghian. And it just took one Tweet from France's interior minister Gérald Darmanin for it to become a full-blown national controversy. On the evening of Monday March 22nd 2021 the municipal council in the north-eastern city voted in principle for a 2.5 million-euro grant to aid the construction of the planned Eyüp Sultan mosque in Strasbourg's Meinau district. Work on this new place of worship started in 2015 and then stopped in the summer of 2019 because of a shortage of cash before resuming at the end of 2020.