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Nur ar-Ramadan

Paris Muslims Perform Tarawih Under Lampposts

By Hadi Yahmid, IOL Correspondent


Teeming with worshipers who come in droves to perform the Tarawih prayers during Ramadan, mosques in Paris carpet the surrounding area to help accommodate them.

In the 18th district, worshipers line up the two pavements outside the Fatah Mosque during the prayers, with some Muslims volunteering to organize traffic moving between the two lines lighted by lampposts.

There are four other mosques in the area, inhabited by a sizeable number of Moroccan workers.

As Muslim worshipers prostrate and kneel down outside the crowded mosque, "stunned" French passers-by stand to watch.

A police patrol passes by the mosque every 15 minutes, amid growing number of Islamophobic incidents targeting the nearly six million Muslims in France.

However, Muslims feel completely safe.

"We feel very safe here. All areas around the mosque are inhabited by Muslims of Arab and African origin," Abdulai Manqi, a guard of the Fatah mosque, said in an African French ascent.

France witnessed a rising number of faith-related incidents in 2004, including racist writings, Nazi wall paintings and desecration of cemetery in the north of the country.Worshippers Meet

Moving to the nearby Khalid Ibn Al-Walid Mosque, worshipers also carpet the pavement next to the building to perform their prayers.

The mosque officials close the street leading to the area with roadblocks, as allowed by the Paris municipality, at the time of prayers.

Noticeably, the two mosques finish the night prayers at the same time, allowing worshipers to get together.

According to a recent survey, France has 1,554 mosques, most of which are finding hard times to accommodate the growing number of worshipers.

The survey, published in a booklet called "the Guide of Prayer places in France", found that most of the existing mosques need expansion and new mosques are needed.

Other neighborhoods and suburbs populated by Arab majority in Paris are usually chockablock during Ramadan with an unmistakable Arab aura.

When hawkers and peddlers raise their voices, calling to attract the attention of customers to buy Moroccan, Tunisian and Algerian goods in this popular market place, you would think of it as a traditional market in North African Maghreb states. But it is the Bellville market in the heart of the French capital, Paris.

During the holy month, French salesmen and shopkeepers seek to lure some six million Muslims with a barrage of eye-catching posters and advertisements that carry an Islamic touch.