Shia centers in France serve the Muslims who have been present in the country since the early centuries, following their presence in Andalusia. Islam is the second most widely professed religion in France (behind only Christianity). France has the largest number of Muslims in the Western world, primarily due to migration from Maghrebi, West African, and Middle Eastern countries. According to some statistics, a population of more than 350,000 Shias live in this country. More precise figures are not available, since the French state, being officially secular, is forbidden to inquire into the question of religion. It can be said that most of the Shia centers in France which are built by Ja’fari and the Twelver Shias of France belong to Iranians and Lebanese. But there are other groups of Shias who are Iraqi, Lebanese, Pakistani, and French-born. These are among the most important Shia groups in this country.
In terms of financial and economic well-being, the Shias of Madagascar (Indian Khojas) who trade, export, and import in France enjoy a prosperous life and have the right to vote in various French elections. Other groups of Shias in France are generally self-employed and often are not in good condition financially and economically. Politically, Shias are not allowed to practice their religion because of the secular atmosphere in the French government. In general, French Shia Muslims are under various pressures and have no representative in the Legislative Council and no governmental or official body supports them.
In Paris, due to the predominant presence of immigrants, Shiites are more present and most of their centers are located in this city and its suburbs. Some of their important centers are listed below: