The association in charge of the construction of the Grand Mosque in Marseille is relieved. On Wednesday 21 December the Marseille administrative appeal court rejected two appeals filed by elected representatives of the National Front and MNR (National Republican Movement) to overturn a decision by the municipal council in July 2007 authorising the establishment of a large mosque in the city with a long lease of 50 years on a plot of 8,600 square metres.
The court noted that “the constitutional principle of secularism, which involves the neutrality of the state and local authorities of the Republic and the legal treatment of different faiths, does not, in itself, prohibit the granting (…) of a long-term administrative lease in order to build a place of worship open to the public.”
It also took the view that the decision does not violate the 1905 law on separation of church and state and rejected the argument that the rent is too low (€24,000 per year).
The first stone was laid with great fanfare in November 2010 but since then there has been no further progress. Despite this positive judicial ruling for the association the project remains blocked by the cancellation of the construction permit by the adminstrative tribunal on 27 October because of uncertainty over the provision of an adequate parking space around the mosque. The project managers have appealed and are awaiting a new verdict.