Economy Why is the city grant for the construction of...

Why is the city grant for the construction of a mosque so controversial?

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The Grand Mosque Eyyub Sultan in Strasbourg on March 23, 2021. – G. Varela / 20 Minutes

  • The great Eyyub Sultan mosque, a stone’s throw from the Meinau stadium, stands out and promises to meet the expectations of many faithful. When completed, it will be the largest in Europe.
  • The site, for lack of sufficient donations, had to stop this winter.
  • Some elected officials are worried about the association that carries the project, considered close to the Turkish power and which refused to sign the future Charter of Principles for Islam in France. A “politico-religious organization” according to the socialist Catherine Trautmann.
  • The ecological majority voted in principle of a subsidy of more than 2.5 million, without the endorsement of other groups on the right or on the left. Another vote will confirm its payment.

As expected, the debate and the vote in Strasbourg city council on Monday for a subsidy of 2.56 million euros for the Turkish-speaking Grand Mosque Eyyub Sultan did not fail to be “passionate”. Between “respect for the rules”, ideology, politics and transparency, the debates dividing the opposition groups and the EELV majority of Mayor Jean Barseghian ended with an amendment. A vote which finally postpones the payment of the subsidy to a new deadline. 20 Minutes gives you a little summary of the issues and questions that agitate the municipal assembly.

What and who are we talking about?

Impossible to miss it. The great Eyyub Sultan mosque, promised to become the largest mosque in Europe, a stone’s throw from the Meinau stadium, is essential and must meet the expectations of many faithful Strasbourg residents. Problem, if the first stone was laid in 2017 and the cranes succeeded one another, the site, for lack of sufficient donations, had to stop this winter, even if we can notice a timid recovery in recent weeks.

Supported by the religious association of Turkish origin “Islamic Confederation of Milli Görüs Grand Mosque Eyyub Sultan”, the cost of the building is estimated at 32 million euros, including 24 million euros for the site itself. The association requested financial assistance from the city up to 10% of the amount of the construction of the mosque, as authorized by a Strasbourg municipal deliberation dating from 1999. Deliberation which provided for the extension of local law to all cults authorized by the State and therefore granted the possibility of a subsidy of 10%. A principle that has made it possible to help a large number of places of worship.

The Eyyub Sultan Grand Mosque in Strasbourg on March 23, 2021.
The Grand Mosque Eyyub Sultan in Strasbourg on March 23, 2021. – G. Varela / 20 Minutes

Who carries the mosque project?

It is not the mosque itself that worries some elected officials. But the association that carries it. Association supposed by some to be close to Turkish power. An association that questions, described as a “politico-religious organization” by the socialist Catherine Trautmann. The latter has also requested a postponement of this subsidy vote for a “deepening on the substance”, to ensure “respect for the rules of the Republic” by the latter. Because it is above all his societal positions that pose a problem and in particular his refusal to sign the future Charter of Principles for Islam in France. But what also fueled the concerns of elected Strasbourg officials was the tense news in Turkey after the announcement on Friday of its withdrawal from the Istanbul European Convention on violence against women.

A break in the rules?

Another concern raised by the elected opposition Jean-Philippe Vetter, the fear of setting a precedent. The procedure for granting a grant for the construction of a place of worship normally implies that the financing project is first presented and discussed with the municipality, before starting a consultation. “Once the financing plan is clear to everyone, there is a request for a subsidy and construction is launched,” recalled the elected. Which is not the case. “An important grant which” requires clarification, also underlined Alain Fontanel (LREM). So as not to vote blindly and without knowing which other actors will contribute to this funding. We need transparency for confidence, and that also vis-à-vis the people of Strasbourg who will pay their taxes its 2.5 million euros. “

Why is the deliberation changed?

In the end, Mayor Jeanne Barseghian, recalling the words of her first deputy Syamak Agha Babaei, conceded that if he can hear “legitimate questions”, they “cannot be of variable geometry. “” The requirement requires that the transparency be the same, whatever the places of worship “indicated the mayor before hammering” wanting equal treatment. It is imperative. “

Also the vote was maintained but the deliberation changed to a “program authorization”. As for the payment of the subsidy, it will be submitted to a subsequent vote, “after the validation and consolidation of the payment credit financing plan. “What allow a meeting with the project leaders and” to have more clarity, transparency and consolidated proposals “, assured Jeanne Barseghian.

As a result, two groups, the Socialists and LREM, did not take part in the vote. The Republicans opposed it as well as three elected members of the majority. The deliberation was therefore adopted with 42 votes for and 7 against.

“Tea of ​​fraternity” in mosques: “success” for the CFCM who wants to repeat the operation

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