Social internet is ablaze with images of scores of Muslim travelers offering Namaz together at a French airport. Following the photographs’ rapid rise to popularity, officials and internet users emphasized that airports and other public locations had designated areas for prayer. On Monday, November 6, the French government committed to deal with such concerns “firmly” as the outcry grew more intense. The airport authority also called the incident “regrettable” and said they will be more watchful going forward.
As per media reports, the pictures were first shared on social media by former European affairs minister, Noelle Lenoir. She asked, “What does the CEO of Aéroports de Paris do when his airport is transformed into a mosque? Is the change in status official?”
Several hundred travelers were seen collectively offering Namza in the Paris departure hall of Charles de Gaulle Airport on Sunday, November 5, in photos that were shared on social media. The travelers were getting ready to board a trip to Jordan.
Notably, religious expression is prohibited in public places like schools and public transportation hubs like metros and airports. France is a totally secular nation. In addition, in such public spaces as airports, there are specific closed sections reserved for private prayer by individuals of all religions.
Consequently, Transport Minister Clément Beaune stated that airport authorities were fully committed to implementing rules and vowed “firmness”.
There are specifically designated places of worship at the airport, according to MP Astrid Panosyan-Bouvet of the ruling party. The MP went on to say that “the rules that prevail in France, including at the airports,” have to be put into effect by the authorities.
He also warned against exaggerating the incident “at this time”. It was an apparent reference to the Israel-Hamas war which has created security concerns in France including several ‘bomb threats’ on airports, museums, and other public places.