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Mixed results for France Muslim street prayer ban

Mixed results for France Muslim street prayer ban
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A ban on praying in the street has come into effect in France.

The practice has become common among many Muslims unable to find space in mosques, and it has become a controversial political issue.

In Paris a large disused fire station has been adapted and rented out to two local mosques.

On the first day more than 2,000 worshippers turned up to pray inside, instead of outside in adjoining streets.

Nearby mosques were closed to encourage people to use the new space.

“I can say that all prayers outside the mosques are over. We have undertaken a commitment to the authorities that prayers in the streets are over, and that this room is open to everyone without excluding anybody from other religions,” said a local imam, Mohamed Saleh Hamza.

The fire station is supposed to be a temporary solution while the Muslim community awaits a new mosque in 2013.

A few dozen people protested at the ban, while others continued to pray outside.

The French interior minister says two other cities have problems with street prayers.

In Marseille a hangar put at the disposition of Muslims was clearly not in a fit state.

The practice of praying in the street has been condemned by the National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who has controversially compared it to the Nazi occupation of France.

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