Speaking to the program’s host Jean Pierre Elkabach, Boubakeur said that there are currently 2,500 mosques across France and that an extra 300 are under construction.
“But it is not enough to meet the needs of the Muslim community,” he said, adding that while there are empty churches, as many as 18,000 Muslim expect to find a place to practice their religion.
Asked whether he would like to turn abandoned churches into mosques, Boubakeur, who is also the rector of the Grand Mosque in Paris, replied: “It’s a delicate issue, but why not?”
He said that in 2012 an abandoned church in Clermont-Ferrand neighborhood had been turned into a mosque with the support of the local community.
“It’s the same God, these are neighboring rites, fraternal, and I think that Muslims and Christians can coexist and live together,” he said.
Boubakeur remarks to turn abandoned or empty churches into mosques were received well by the Christian community in France.
“Muslims should, like Christians and Jews, be able to practice their religion,” said Ribadeau-Dumas, spokesperson for France’s Bishops Conference.
With five million Muslims, France has that largest Muslim population in Europe. However, a shortage in the number of mosques leads many Muslims to pray in public streets. Dalil Boubakeur said that as many as 5,000 mosques may be needed for the country’s Muslim population.
This comes as the forum for dialogue between the Muslim community and the French Government met on Monday, June 15th for the first time in Paris.