A crossroads of Franco-Moroccan cultural sharing

On the occasion of heritage days, the Mohammed VI Great Mosque in Saint-Etienne (GMSE) opened its doors on September 18 and 19. This Saint-Etienne cultural and religious building was born from the promise made over the years of sharing between the different communities of the French department of Loire. It is about a harmonious cohabitation between a moderate Islam and the other religions.

A large number exceeding 1000 people visit this Mosque inaugurated in 2012 after its completion after 8 years of construction work. This building is now part of the landscape of the city of Saint-Etienne and gives visitors a “moment of peace and tolerance”. This place of worship also organizes exhibitions, conferences, seminars and round tables around a variety of cultural themes related to living together.

The Mohammed VI Great Mosque in Saint-Etienne has made the event called “What if we got to know” an annual meeting to welcome all religious affiliations in the department inviting them to better understand Islam. The pandemic context has not impacted the annual meetings of the Grand Mosque and has not discouraged the crowds to come and take part in European Heritage Days. Certainly, for Youssef Afif, the cultural director of this place of worship, the involvement is less because of the Covid-19, but as he explains, “we have maintained all the health restrictions, including strict compliance with the distancing, wearing a mask, distributing the hydro-alcoholic gel.

We insisted on organizing guided tours to publicize our structure, the Great Mosque Mohammed VI in Saint Etienne with all that it represents as architectural wealth of Moroccan heritage. In addition, present our religious model, Islam of the golden mean, an Islam that is practiced in Morocco according to a universal and universal vision. That’s our message, ”he says.

The interpretation of Friday sermons for the deaf and hard of hearing, an unprecedented action to the credit of the Saint-Etienne mosque

Since its inauguration, this place of worship has continued to innovate through the means used to reach the Muslim community at the level of the department as well as through social networks. The GMSE has also entered the online managerial community by creating a page on Facebook.

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Since the first Khotbate alJuma’a (Friday sermon) of the new Hegira year 1443, entitled “The month of Muharram and its virtues”, on August 13, 2021, the Mohammed VI Great Mosque in Saint-Etienne has recorded more than 35,662 views , more than 461 shares on Facebook platforms and no less than 765 comments and 1,700 admirations of the bilingual preaching of Mohammed Bah, the imam recruited by the mosque.

It is addressed in Arabic and French to all generations with a simple and clear language. His presence reflects his spiritual diplomacy and depth in Africa and Europe while translating the recommendations of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, Commander of the Faithful. Imam Mohammed Bah is of Guinean origin, his speech refers to the Islam of tolerance and clairvoyance which is advocated in Morocco.

“Currently we are visible, we have nothing to hide. Because of this, everyone listens to us and follows us through other channels, even those who were not paying attention to our speech. Currently, they broadcast the flagship events of the mosque, things are going better and better, ”concludes the cultural director of the Great Mosque Mohammed VI in Saint-Etienne.

The use of social media helps organize and broadcast Khotbate al-Juma’a live on Facebook, YouTube and other digital platforms. The follow-up is up to the size and importance of this institution and it even exceeds the scores of France. Today, a large audience from sub-Saharan Africa follows us and highlights this important dimension adopted by Morocco and which reflects the vision of His Majesty King Mohammed VI as to the religious significance of this building.

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The Mohammed VI Great Mosque of Saint-Etienne has also opted for a live broadcast on social networks, in particular tarrawih, Friday prayers, and other activities (conferences on the values ​​of Islam and living – together, sessions of reading and recitation of the Holy Quran …) In front of their laptops or computers, every Friday, thousands of Muslims all over the world, already registered on the page (GMSE) await the live broadcast signal of the Friday prayer . And previously the same for “salat tarrawih”.

After its unprecedented experience of sign language in favor of young Franco-Moroccan faithful, the mosque allows a group of young deaf and hard of hearing Muslims “to live their Islam without being completely excluded”.

However, this religious building which is an integral part of the city wants to be a citizen institution attached to the values ​​of secularism We continue, declares Youssef Afif, on the path of the interpretation of sermons for the deaf and hard of hearing and we are showing the way other structures inspired by the Mohammed VI Great Mosque in Saint-Etienne.

Youssef Hannani

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