PARIS -- Hundreds of Muslims defied a French ban on outdoor prayer -- which came into force Friday --and took to the streets and sidewalks of Paris to pray.
The French government announced Thursday it was banning praying outside, with officials pledging to enforce the ban from Friday.
But 200 Muslims ignored the ban and prayed on the streets in the neighborhood of La Goutte d'Or, Le Parisien newspaper reported.
French interior minister Claude Gueant said he had nothing against Islam but wanted it out of the public eye because France was a secular state.
He added, "Street prayers must stop because they hurt the feelings of many of our compatriots who are shocked by the occupation of the public space for a religious practice."
Although officials would persuade people to pray in mosques, Muslims who continued to pray in the street would be arrested, Gueant warned.
The ban angered French Muslim leaders who said Muslims only prayed outdoors because of a lack of space in mosques in France.
The outdoor prayer ban is the latest move by the French government to remove Islam from the public sphere. Laws prohibiting students wearing headscarves in schools and banning women from wearing the full Muslim veil -- the niqab --in public came into force in April.
In: World News, Regional News, Other News
Tags: Muslims, defy, outdoor, prayer ban, France, islam
Location: Paris, Île-de-France, France (load item map)
Marked as: approved
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