| · Population: 800,000
| · Muslim population: 75,000
Toulouse, one of the biggest cities in France, is nestled in the broad Garonne river basin between France’s central mountain range and the Pyrenees Mountains. Sun-drenched Toulouse has a large North African Muslim population of about 75,000 – nearly a tenth of the city’s population.
Since 1979 an estimated four to five million Iranians have left Iran and been dispersed worldwide. They can be found throughout Europe and the Middle East. There are also an estimated two million Iranians in the United States. Approximately 500,000 Iranians reside in California alone, and an estimated 150,000 live in northern Virginia and Maryland.
Lifestyles in Toulouse, France
Among Toulouse’s Muslims one finds businessmen, secondary school or university students, primary schoolchildren, politicians and housewives. The vast majority find themselves living near the bottom of the socioeconomic scale. Earning a living and dealing with daily life isn’t easy when so many mothers, and even some fathers, are either illiterate in French or do not know it well as a second language.
Taking into account the various language communication problems and cross-cultural misunderstandings, it is easy to see how problems crop up in southwestern Toulouse, the area where most of the North African population live. The mix of cross-cultural, racial and economic tensions is particularly strong in the massive housing complexes of Bagatelle, Mirail and Empalot.
Testimony from Toulouse, France
(The names have been changed in the following story.)
Ahmed didn’t like authority figures. His father was a very stern and somewhat distant disciplinarian. Ahmed was different, being a tall young man with an outgoing manner. Ahmed also felt rejected by French society. He would sometimes respond to this cultural barrier with violence. During a party he met a man his age named Richard. Like Ahmed, Richard was born in North Africa, but raised in France. Ahmed’s attempts to penetrate the thoughts of the more reserved Richard finally succeeded when he mentioned an interest in books. Richard suddenly answered: “Oh, then let me give you something to read: the Bible.” Later, Ahmed met the French pastor of an evangelical church, who led him to Christ.
Pray for the Muslims in Toulouse, France:
* Ahmed once gave the following advice to a missionary worker:
“If you want to really reach Muslims in Toulouse, drop by a police station, and leave a few tracts that they might pick up and read.”