Exploring Islam in Paris: Pt 1

When you step off the train from London, one of the first things you notice about Paris is the lack of diversity. Yet, France has one of the highest populations of Muslims in Europe and the Americas, most of whom live in the outskirts or suburbs of Paris, in all-too noticeable segregation. This week seemed like an appropriate time for me to go find Parisien diversity, especially in light of my trip to Morocco as well as the fact that the controversial burka-ban has gone into effect this week in France. 

So today I traversed to the 18th arrondissement in Paris, which is primarily inhabited by Parisiens of north African decent. As it is Friday, one of the main Islamic prayers was to occur, and I was hoping to get a glimpse of Islam in France, a country I usually equate with romance, decadent aristocracies and high fashion. What I found was touching.

There isn’t enough room in the mosques to house the Muslims coming to pray on the streets of Paris, so rugs are laid out on streets:

The roads were completely packed with pray-ers, who used cardboard, or their own jackets when rugs were lacking.

The shops were closed in honor of Friday prayer, and a handful of French/Westerners stood by to watch. I was more than a little irked by the fact that I was taking pictures of people praying, it seemed like such an infringement on their space. But there were other photographers, and cameramen with huge videocameras, so I was not the only one.

I see France as a country that has the opportunity to create strong ties with their Muslim communities, and be the world leader in bridging the gaps between Islamic and Western cultures. I hope they will take the initiative.

One Response to “Exploring Islam in Paris: Pt 1”
  1. Eoin says:

    Thank you Aisling. This is lovely.

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