The new, modern-style, green-domed mosque in the suburban town of Cergy opened today.
At 2,000 square metres, it has capacity for 1,500 people and cost 3.75 million euros to build.
The town pitched in by guaranteeing half of a 2.2 million loan taken out by the Cergy Muslim Federation, and by leasing the land at a nominal price for 99 years. The rest came from donations from Federation members.
''It is our responsibility to progressively build a French Islam, one that will find put down roots in our country,'' said Interior Minister Manuel Valls, who attended the opening of the mosque. ''This was made possible by two things: Muslim unity, and political will,'' Socialist Mayor Dominique Lefebvre said.
''We want it to be clear that we paid for this, through donations,'' Imam Tahar Mahdi said.
There have been projects to build a mosque in Cergy since the 1980s. Lefebvre, who was elected in 1996, has played a fine balancing act with French law, which bans public funding of religious sites. The new mosque also has a cultural center, a tea room, a funeral parlor, and schoolrooms. (ANSAMed).