An Ecumenical Courtyard in France

The faithful come in by two very separate doors, but then find themselves praying a few meters from each other, separated only by a thin fence of plasterboard. The Jews and Muslims of Kremlin- ​​Bicetre, difficult outskirts south of Paris, have been sharing the same place of worship for a dew weeks. At the behest of local authorities a new mosque was in fact built in the same synagogue courtyard of the historic district. This was carried out as an experiment that the deputy mayor Jean Nicolle Mark defines "fair and ambitious" and that until now has not raised any issue of co-existence in spite of the initial skepticism. "One day I proposed to the mayor to build the mosque next to the Jewish temple, that for practical reasons but mainly for symbolic reasons, we wanted to convey a message of peace to go beyond the usual community conflicts," says Nicolle .


The success of the experiment is also due to the restraint and intelligence of the two respective religious representatives and their availability to take part in the meetings of the City Council. Myara Albert, president of the local Jewish community accepted the birth of the mosque without hesitation, fully agreeing with the idea of ​​Nicolle: "Despite the differences we have no choice, we must learn to live together." Even Mohammed Khodja, esteemed surgeon and leader of the Muslims of Kremlin- ​​Bicêtre shares this ecumenical approach: "Living together without fueling tensions is the most important thing because it is a fundamental value of our Republic."


Despite the tensions and the fact that stereotypes die hard, the most ecumenical courtyart in France continues to host daily religious functions of the two communities, without the slightest hint of conflict. If the detractors of the initiative speak of "forced cohabitation", its promoters are confident that the close proximity to both teach the culture of mutual respect and tolerance. The facts seem to prove him right.