Grand Mosque of Paris

Grand Mosque of Paris

Grand Mosque of Paris
  • Grand Mosque of Paris (French: Grande Mosquée de Paris), also known as the Great Mosque of Paris or simply the Paris Mosque, is located in the 5th arrondissement and is one of the largest Musjids in France. There are prayer rooms, an outdoor garden, a small library, a gift shop, along with a cafe and restaurant. In all, the Musjid plays an important role in promoting the visibility of Islam and Muslims in France. It is the oldest Musjid in Metropolitan France.


  • In 1881, the French government established the indigénat [The Code de l’indigénat “native code”, were diverse and fluctuating sets of laws and regulations characterized by arbitrariness which created in practice an inferior legal status for natives of French colonies from 1881 until 1944–1947] in Algeria which enabled punishments, such as being stripped of land, and discrimination towards the colonials. This decree also restricted travel of Algerians internationally and in their own country by requiring permits to travel. In 1905, a strike among the French workforce had French officials look to Algerians to fill this role. The travel limitations were relaxed to allow Algerians to travel and immigrate to France to fill the voids in the labor force. In 1912, the French desire for workers grew as the country grew while also needing additional soldiers for the military. In response, the decree was softened allowing further immigration from Algeria. Shortly afterwards, during World War I France needed more resources to assist ongoing war. France saw large waves of migration of Algerians to France in order to serve in the military and to become laborers. The war saw casualties upwards of 100,000 Algerian soldiers serving the French and a new population of Algerian immigrants into France. As the war came to an end, the French became more accepting of the Muslim people and wanted to celebrate them for their efforts and sacrifices for France.


  • The first project for a true Musjid in Paris was envisaged without success in 1895 by the Committee of French Africa set up by Théophile Delcassé, Jules Cambon, the Prince Bonaparte and the Prince d’Arenberg. An article in La Presse from 12 January 1896 was, however, optimistic about this project, specifically for a Musjid to be constructed on the Quai d’Orsay, notably with the financial support of the Ottoman sultan, the Viceroy of Egypt, and the Sultan of Morocco.


  • The decision to construct the Musjid resurfaced more precisely in the aftermath of the Battle of Verdun when the Société des Habous was charged with constructing the Musjid. This association, created in 1917, had the goal of organizing an annual pilgrimage to Mecca for residents of North Africa and insuring that the pilgrims followed regulations of security and hygiene during their travel to the Hejaz.


  • The Great Musjid of Paris was funded by the French state as per the law of 19 August 1920, which accorded a subvention of 500,000 francs for the construction of a Muslim Institute composed of a Musjid, a library, and a meeting and study room. The Great Mosque was built on the site of the former Charity Hospital (Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital) and adjacent to the Jardin des plantes. The first stone was laid in 1922.


  • It was inaugurated on 16 July 1926, in the presence of French President Gaston Doumergue and Sultan Yusef of Morocco. Doumergue celebrated the Franco-Muslim friendship sealed by the bloodshed on the Western Front in World War I and affirmed that the Republic protected all beliefs. The Sufi Sheikh Ahmad al-Alawi led the first communal prayer to inaugurate the newly built Musjid.


  • During the Second World War and the occupation of France by the Nazis, the Great Mosque of Paris served as a site of resistance for Muslims living in France. The Algerians of the Francs-Tireurs et Partisans (FTP; Partisan Snipers) made it their mission to secure and protect British parachutists and find them shelter. Built on caves, the Musjid permitted them to secretly reach the Bièvre, a tributary of the Seine. The FTP also helped Jewish families or families whom they knew or at the request of friends, relocate to the Musjid while waiting for transit papers for passage to the Free Zone or to cross the Mediterranean Sea to the Maghreb. Jewish refugees were given papers declaring that they were Muslim and members of the Musjid in order to protect them from persecution. Doctor Albert Assouline recorded some 1600 ration cards (one per person) that had been furnished by the Great Mosque of Paris for the Jews who had found refuge there.
Tagged as: Heritage Sites

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