An appeals court has granted permission for the construction of a multi-million-euro mosque in the city of Marseille that has been touted as a symbol of Islam's menacing growth in France.
The court reversed a directive by Marseille's administrative tribunal that repudiated the project's construction permit for supposed failures to meet urban-planning requirements.
A community association managed by a local butcher had lodged a complaint against the building permit, saying that the mosque project did not fit with the environmental surroundings.
The scheme was granted a permit in September 2009 but building was deferred after complaints from local residents and businesses.
The $28mn project would see the Grand Mosque, displaying a minaret rising some 25 metres high and room for up to 7,000 worshippers, built in the city's northern Saint-Louis area.
Muslim rulers in the Mediterranean city had acclaimed the approval of the project as a vital step in recognising the significance of Marseille's large Muslim community.
France's second largest city is home to approximately 250,000 Muslims, many of whom flock to temporary prayer houses in basements, rented rooms and filthy garages to worship.
Home to Europe's biggest Muslim minority of around 6million, France has for years been deliberating just how far it is willing to go to accommodate Islam, now the country's second religion.
The appeals court in December also revoked complaints against the mosque, filed by France's Front National.
Head of the Marseille Mosque association, Abderrahman Ghoul, who is backing the project, hailed the court's decision as "very good news" but said there were still efforts to be made to finance the project.
The decision could still be appealed to the State Council, France's highest administrative legal authority, but Ghoul said construction would begin once financing for the project was finalised.