Visiting the Great Mosque of Paris, Mila hopes for “appeasement”

Visiting the Great Mosque of Paris, Mila hopes for “appeasement”
Visiting the Great Mosque of Paris, Mila hopes for “appeasement”

Mila, whose controversial outings on Islam have brought her a torrent of hatred and threats on the internet, visited the Great Mosque of Paris.

Access to the prayer hall is, according to a sign, “strictly forbidden to visitors”. The young Mila, whose polemical outings on Islam have earned her a torrent of hatred and threats on the internet, visited the Great Mosque of Paris on Thursday as a sign of appeasement “.

Pink and gray socks, dyed green hair tied with a rubber band, head shaved at the sides, Mila walks on the prayer rugs, under the puzzled eye of a few believers.

For two hours, the rector of the “GMP” Chems-eddine Hafiz offers him a VIP tour of this place inaugurated in 1926 and an initiation to Islam, with a pink Koran as a gift.

Amid the lush vegetation of the gardens of the Great Mosque, the lapping of the fountains muffles the noise of the city but not the word “peace”, repeated several times by the host and his guest.

At the beginning of 2020, on Instagram, Mila had angrily retaliated against a man who insulted her “in the name of Allah”: “Islam is shit (…) Your religion is shit , your God, I put a finger in her asshole, thank you, goodbye “.

Since then, she has been threatened with death, cyber-harassed, dropped out of school and lives under police protection.

On Wednesday, the Paris Criminal Court sentenced eleven of its cyberstalkers to four to six months suspended prison sentence. The day after this judgment, she vows that her presence in this place of worship will be “soothing for everyone”. “And I learned a lot coming here,” she adds.

“We dialogue, we fraternize, we debate, we don’t have to agree”

If the imam of the mosque welcomes him soberly, Chems-eddine Hafiz multiplies him respects and gestures of affection.

“Come on, Mila”: for two hours, the rector shows her the minaret, the mosque and the gardens. “The Paris mosque is a place open to everyone. We really want to show him, as a Muslim, what Islam is.”

Despite its “friendly” climate, the visit is a source of concern in terms of security. “Me, I take the risk. You will cry for me”, ironically the rector.

“We dialogue, we fraternize, we debate, we do not have to agree,” welcomes Mila’s lawyer, Me Richard Malka, an old friend and colleague of the bar of Mr. Hafiz. He hopes that a positive “lesson” will be learned from the afternoon by “those who have indulged in hatred”.

Chems-eddine Hafiz has not forgotten Mila’s words and recalls that “Islam is a religion that, of course, must be respected”. Mila, he clears, however, “had harsh words in a particular context”, that of online harassment.

He hesitates. “I don’t think what she said … maybe it betrayed her true thoughts, but I’m convinced that we have to get out of the clichés.” “There was an unfortunate incident at one point, but the fact that she is coming here is a source of hope.”

And Mila, has she changed her outlook on Islam? She hesitates then evades: “I would be mixed on the question. It depends. Between things that are misinterpreted, between what is really my thought …”

“Your approach touches me enormously”

At the entrance to the huge patio adjoining the prayer room, a veiled woman from Seine-Saint-Denis approaches the visitor. “I am very pleasantly surprised to see you here. Your walk touches me enormously, I am very moved,” she said to Mila.

But caution remains in order. “I don’t want to be filmed,” Mila’s interlocutor told reporters, worried for her safety.

Before leaving, the young woman confides her “pleasure” about this “friendly visit”. A “mark of peace is very important to me”.

However, she remains under the surveillance of social networks, which scrutinize her every deed, gesture and statement. As soon as she entered the Great Mosque, a woman signaled her presence on Twitter: “There’s Mila. Someone to explain it to me?”

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