the Council of State validates the loan of a room in Nice to a Muslim organization

the Council of State validates the loan of a room in Nice to a Muslim organization

The Council of State validated on Monday March 18 the loan by the city of Nice of a municipal hall to a Muslim association for the end of Ramadan 2018. A decision which had been criticized by the administrative court of appeal of Marseille.
In June 2018, a municipal decree authorized the Union of Muslims of the Alpes-Maritimes (Umam) to use the Lino Ventura municipal theater and its parking lot free of charge from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. to celebrate Eid-El-Fitr

Seized by Philippe Vardon, an opposition elected member of the national leadership of Reconquête, the administrative court of Nice validated the decree in February 2021. But in December 2022, the administrative court of appeal of Marseille invalidated it, believing that the Umam should have been considered as “a cultural association” and that it could therefore not receive public funding under the principle of secularism arising from the law of 1905.

2011 case law

In its decision, the Council of State invalidated the appeal decision by relying on case law from 2011 which authorizes local authorities to lend premises free of charge to a religious association, provided that it is punctual and that it respects the principle of equality between religions.

The loan must also respect the principle of neutrality and avoid any generosity: if it entails costs for the community which would not have been incurred for premises remaining empty (heating, cleaning, etc.), then these costs must be invoiced to the cultural association.

The Council of State therefore referred the case to the Marseille administrative court of appeal to determine whether the loan of the theater and the parking lot for four hours had caused costs.

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