Discuss as:

French ban on praying in the streets goes into effect today

Thibault Camus / AP

A French Muslim man looks through a window as he attends Friday prayers at a former fire station converted into a prayer hall, on Friday in Paris.

Thibault Camus / AP

French Muslims attend Friday prayers at a former fire station converted into a prayer hall, on Friday in Paris.

Valery Hache / AFP - Getty Images

Muslims people pray in a street of the French southern city of Nice on Sept. 16.

Valery Hache / AFP - Getty Images

Muslim people pray in the street of the French southern city of Nice on Sept. 16 during Friday prayers. A ban on praying in French streets went into effect today, with thousands of the nation's Muslim faithful being moved to temporary alternative spaces for their day of prayer. From Paris to Marseille, midday prayers will be led from disused barracks or other temporary buildings, after the question of Islam's visibility became a political issue under President Nicolas Sarkozy.

According to AP:

For years, Muslims by the hundreds, dodging foot and vehicle traffic, have unfurled rugs on northern Paris sidewalks and put their foreheads to the ground outside two mosques for Friday prayers — for the simple reason that there's not enough space inside.

Now the interior minister — who's also one of President Nicolas Sarkozy's top advisers — has devised a stopgap solution: On Friday, a unused former fire station nearby will be outfitted to host two large prayer halls.

The move tackles one of France's thorniest social dilemmas in recent years: How to integrate a large and expanding Muslim population that often feels alienated in a proudly secular country with deep Roman Catholic roots.

Looks like they might need to add some prayer space in Nice as well, as today Muslims were still praying in the streets there.

More from BBC on the ban going into effect.

Full story on the coverted fire stations.