Europe

Muslims protest with street prayer in Paris suburb

  • Hundreds of Muslims pray on the street in front of the town hall plaza, seen behind, in the Paris suburb of Clichy la Garenne, Friday, March 31, 2017. They protest the closure of a prayer room and call attention to their wishes for a mosque in their town, with a large Muslim population. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

    Hundreds of Muslims pray on the street in front of the town hall plaza, seen behind, in the Paris suburb of Clichy la Garenne, Friday, March 31, 2017. They protest the closure of a prayer room and call attention to their wishes for a mosque in their town, with a large Muslim population. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)  (The Associated Press)

  • Hundreds of Muslims pray on the street in front of the town hall plaza, seen behind, in the Paris suburb of Clichy la Garenne, Friday, March 31, 2017. They protest the closure of a prayer room and call attention to their wishes for a mosque in their town, with a large Muslim population. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

    Hundreds of Muslims pray on the street in front of the town hall plaza, seen behind, in the Paris suburb of Clichy la Garenne, Friday, March 31, 2017. They protest the closure of a prayer room and call attention to their wishes for a mosque in their town, with a large Muslim population. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)  (The Associated Press)

  • Hundreds of Muslims pray on the street in front of the town hall plaza in the Paris suburb of Clichy la Garenne, Friday, March 31, 2017. They protest the closure of a prayer room and call attention to their wishes for a mosque in their town, with a large Muslim population. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

    Hundreds of Muslims pray on the street in front of the town hall plaza in the Paris suburb of Clichy la Garenne, Friday, March 31, 2017. They protest the closure of a prayer room and call attention to their wishes for a mosque in their town, with a large Muslim population. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)  (The Associated Press)

Hemmed in and closely watched by police, hundreds of Muslims have unrolled rugs and mats and prayed outdoors in the busy streets of a Paris suburb to protest the closure of their prayer hall.

The show of strength Friday by throngs of worshippers in Clichy highlights a long-standing issue for France's Muslim community, estimated at 5 million people: a shortage of mosques.

Clichy City Hall wants to turn the rented prayer hall the worshippers were using into a multimedia library for the town's 60,000 residents.

It says Muslims can worship at a new Islamic cultural and prayer center, already used by hundreds of people, the town inaugurated last year.

Far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has decried such street prayers to fuel her anti-immigrant, anti-Islam discourse.