National Geographic : 2012 Mar
• A Muslim family watches sheep being butchered at Moustapha Slimani meat market during Id al-Adha, the holiday commemorating Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son. Many sheep are still ritually slaugh- tered in Muslim homes, despite a law forbidding the practice. l'immigration is the question of whether, where, and how Muslims will pray. On Fridays the relatively small houses of worship that exist in Marseille have the faithful spilling out into the streets, sometimes blocking tra c. is specta- cle is cited by right-wing politicians as evidence that an Islamic horde has descended on the city. "We French are being replaced by another people and their culture, religion, and way of life," says Stéphane Ravier of the far-right National Front. " e wave of immigration has been so huge in the last 20 years that we are being submerged." " ere are more than 70 mosques and prayer rooms in Marseille," says Mayor Gaudin, but clearly that's not adequate. e idea of building a grand mosque gained traction. " e population approved---by 60 percent. ey understood that each religion ought to have a signi cant monu- ment," says Gaudin. The cornerstone for the mosque was laid in May 2010. e rector of the main mosque in Paris came for the occasion. A Socialist Party politician proclaimed it would sig- nify the "fraternal cohabitation of the communi- ties." Construction was to be completed by 2013. ree months later I asked a taxi driver to take me to the site, a complex of buildings that had once served as a municipal slaughterhouse. "I'm the one you ask to take you there?" asked the driver, who clearly didn't approve of the mosque. " e invasion has already begun," he said as we made our way through the streets up the hill. e committee endorsing the mosque planned to keep the muezzin quiet and mark the times of prayer with a light from the minaret instead. But conservatives complained that the minaret of the $30 million structure would dominate the Marseille skyline, a distinction long reserved for the Basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde. When I arrived at the old abattoirs there was no sign of any minaret being raised, no sign of construction at all apart from a few permits post- ed on the walls. Old men played pétanque n e a r by. "Is this where the mosque is going to be built?" I asked. "Yes," said one, looking at the others as if getting their consent to talk, "but I don't think it's going to happen." Why's that? "A question of money," said another, rubbing his ngers together.