It was with a sinking dread in March 2012 that Imam Mohamed Khattabi, of the mosque Averroès Ibn Rochd of Montpellier, heard that a Muslim gunman had opened fire in Toulouse killing seven, including three children, at a Jewish day school.

It was not just remorse for the senseless death in the city, 150 miles away in southern France. He also knew the fury that would be unleashed upon France's Muslim community by the far right, which has been gaining ground across Europe on the back of anti-immigrant sentiment.

So his mosque conceived to temper the confusion and fear that ensued, inviting Catholics, Jews, atheists, and even the far right itself to the mosque to, he says, teach people that Islam is not anathema to the values of the French Republic.

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