Category: World / November 29, 2012 12:26 PM EST
In a cozy neighborhood in the suburbs of Paris, Europe's first gay-friendly mosque is about to open its doors.
The mosque's founder, Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed, comes to inspect the location for this unusual place of worship for the first time -- a small room inside a meditation room.
For Zahed, a gay man and a practicing Muslim, the location has the advantage of being both anonymous and non-political.
But from now on, every Friday, this room will welcome gay, transgender and transsexual individuals for an ultra-progressive Muslim prayer in which women will be encouraged to sit next to men, and to lead the prayer.
The room, though small, will officially become France's first gay-friendly and feminist mosque.
With this new mosque open to all, Zahad intends to offer a safe haven to those who do not feel comfortable in more traditional places of worship.
Three members of his association are currently doing weekly training to act as the mosque's Imams.
The initiative has not however been backed by any Muslim institution. Many of France's Imams said they considered the project as contrary to the principles of Islam.
Zahed, though relaxed about hostile reactions within the Muslim community, asked reporters covering the opening to avoid disclosing the location of his "all-inclusive mosque" to protect its visitors.
The mosque opens just as France is being entangled in a heated debate on gay marriage and adoption.
The first prayer is set to take place on Friday, November 30.