The Grande Mosquée de Paris and two associations asked the Conseil d'Etat's urgent applications judge to authorise the opening of mosques in France on the night of 8 to 9 May for "Qadr Night" (Night of Destiny). The urgent applications judge noted that the health situation remains a concern and that alternative measures have been put in place by many mosques to allow for an appropriate follow-up of worshipers, notably for "Qadr Night", with a religious service by remote means. He also noted that it would be very difficult for the public authorities to ensure that all movements on the night of 8 to 9 March, other than for compelling reasons, were related to "Qadr Night".
For these reasons, the urgent applications judge rejected the request for an exemption. As had been the case in previous appeals relating to the exercise of religion, the urgent applications judge recalled that freedom of religion is a fundamental freedom that includes the right to participate collectively in a ceremony. Given the current health context, however, this freedom must be reconciled with the objective of protecting the health of the population, as recognised by the Constitution.
The urgent applications judge observed, first of all, that the health situation remained worrying, with indicators still deteriorating and the rate of spread of the virus remaining high throughout the country. In addition, the curfew measure, which prohibits people from leaving their homes between 7pm and 6am throughout metropolitan France, seems to have been effective in curbing the transmission of the virus.
The judge noted that in order to contribute to the fight against the epidemic, the leaders of mosques in France have implemented health protocols that make it possible to reduce the risk linked to gatherings in an enclosed space.
However, the judge recalled that the measures currently in force already allow collective participation in religious ceremonies organised between 6am and 7pm. He also noted that alternative measures had been put in place by many mosques to allow for appropriate monitoring of worshipers during the month of Ramadan and "Qadr Night", with a religious service provided by electronic means.
Finally, the judge observed that a temporary suspension of lockdown for only a part of the population implies that the public authorities are able to ensure that the persons who use this exemption actually go to or return from a place of worship. Furthermore, the number of people expected to visit a mosque on the night of 8 to 9 May 2021 is estimated at 200,000, which represents a significant number of trips, given the precarious health situation.
Under these conditions, the impossibility of going to a place of worship during the curfew, including for "Qadr Night", does not constitute a manifestly disproportionate infringement of the freedom of worship in view of the objective of protecting public health.