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Saudi-funded mosque opens in Nice after long wait

The mosque’s opening was described as “a real joy,” by Ouassini Mebarek, lawyer and head of a local religious association

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A Saudi-funded mosque in Nice opened its doors for the first time Saturday, after a 15-year of waiting.

The Nicois En-nour Institute mosque received authorization to open early Saturday from the local prefect, substituting for town mayor Philippe Pradal, who recently took over from Christian Estrosi who was implacably opposed to the construction of it.

The mosque’s opening was described as “a real joy,” by Ouassini Mebarek, lawyer and head of a local religious association.

“But there is no smug triumphalism,” he told AFP. “This is recognition of the law, and a right to freely practice one’s religion in France in accordance with the values of French Republic.”

Ten Muslim faithful entered the mosque’s basement, which can hold 880 worshippers, for evening prayers.

“A Muslim prefers the house of god to his own home, provided it is beautiful,” said Abdelaziz, one of the worshippers who came to pray with his son Mohamed.

In the room reserved for women Amaria, a mother from neighboring Moulins said: “Today we are happy. Happy and relieved to have found this place.... We are tired of hiding ourselves, we aren’t mice!”