The al-Wahda prayer room and the Al-Baraka Mosque on the Rue de Suisse in Nice’s city center were filling up for their early afternoon services on Saturday. Muslim worshippers arrived, locked up their bikes and took off their sandals and socks on green mats laid outside the entrance to Al-Baraka to protect their feet. The sound of Arabic prayer spilled out from both.
Both Al-Wahda, which only has a limited space of 160 square meters for its worshippers, and the next door Al-Baraka Mosque, are refusing entry to non-Muslims for the prayers services. But once prayers were over Al-Wahda’s imam, Sheikh Abdulmonam, initially hesitant at speaking to aNewsweek reporter, gave me permission to enter the house of worship so that we could talk about the actions of Mohamed Bouhlel, a 31-year-old Tunisian that the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) on Saturday claimed as one their own.
After Bouhlel mowed down hundreds of locals and foreigners celebrating Bastille Day on the Promenade des Anglais on Thursday night, killing at least 84 people, Muslim communities across France are once again coming to terms with a mass killing carried out in their religion’s name.