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French mosques open doors for public to highlight the real values of Islam

At a time when Islamic extremist attacks have fostered negative impressions of the Islam, hundreds of French mosques are opening their doors to the public on Saturday and Sunday, offering visitors an opportunity to come in for tea and a chat about Islam

In a major open-house event Mulims in France will educate non-Muslims about their culture, putting on debates and calligraphy workshops, and even inviting people to attend one of the five daily prayers.

The event is organised by the country’s leading Muslim body, ‘the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM)’, aiming to stimulate dialogue about Islam and create a greater sense of “national cohesion”.

“The objective is to create a space where people can be together and meet normal Muslim worshippers and all of our fellow citizens and “highlight the real values of Islam to set straight the cliches about links to violence and terrorism,” CFCM president Anouar Kbibech told AFP.

The event comes a year after 17 people were killed in jihadist attacks in Paris targeting satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket, resulting in increased anti- Muslim acts, some of which targeted places of worship, although the number was much lower after the November bloodshed than after those that took place in January.

“Instead of dwelling on these tragic acts, it seemed more useful and important to celebrate ‘the spirit of January 11’,” he said, referring to the date when millions of people took to the streets in a mass show of solidarity.