Construction of France's largest mosque set to begin

Paris, France - The construction of France's largest mosque, with room for some 7,000 visitors, was officially launched Friday when Marseille Mayor Jean-Claude Gaudin handed over the construction permit. The mosque will cost 22 million euros (32.6 million dollars) to build and is to comprise a prayer hall measuring 2,500 square metres and a 25-metre high minaret.

Plans for the project also call for the construction of a library, an amphitheatre and a restaurant. The foundation stone is to be laid in April, with the mosque scheduled to open in 2011.

France has Europe's largest Islamic community, which is estimated at about 5 million people. In addition, about a quarter of Marseille's 830,000 inhabitants are Moslems.