Religion in Marseille

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Modern-day Marseille's cultural diversity is reflected in the wide variety of religious beliefs of its citizens.


There are 850.000 Christians in Marseille as of 2010.


The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Marseille, is a metropolitan archdiocese of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic church in France. The Archepiscopal see is in the city of Marseille, and the diocese comprises the arrondissement of Marseille, a subdivision of the department of Bouches-du-Rhône in the Region of P.A.C.A.

In 2013 there were 715.000 Catholics in Marseille, forming 68.2% of the total population of the diocese.

Eastern Orthodox[edit]

In 2013, 10,000 people living in Marseille identify themselves as Eastern Orthodox.[1][better source needed]

Armenian Apostolic Church[edit]

In 2013, 80,000 people living in Marseille identify themselves as Armenian Apostolic Church.[1][2][3][better source needed]

European Immigration to Marseille[edit]

In 2014 The National Institute of Statistics (INSEE, for its acronym in French) published a study on Thursday, according to which has doubled the number of Spanish immigrants, Portuguese and Italians in the south of Marseille between 2009 and 2012.[4] According to the French Institute, this increase resulting from the financial crisis that hit several European countries in that period, has pushed up the number of Europeans installed in the south of Marseille.[4][5] Statistics on Spanish immigrants in France show a growth of 107 percent between 2009 and 2012, i.e. in this period went from 5300 to 11,000 people.[4][5]


As official data on religion are generally not collected in France on the principle of secularism ("laïcité"), the precise number of Muslims in Marseille is not available.[6] Various sources estimate Muslims to constitute 20%[7] to 40%[8] of the city's population. A survey of high-school students carried out in 2000–2001 suggests that 30% to 40% of young people have a Muslim background.[9] In 2015, The Guardian reported that were 250,000 Muslims in Marseille.[10]

In Marseille, there are seven halal abattoirs during Eid al-Adha, 73 prayer spaces, including 10 in the city center.[7]

Unlike in some other parts of France, Muslim minorities live within city limits, often side-by-side with the native population. A 2008 study concluded that French children of North African descent in Marseille were three times as likely to have friends of a different ethnic background as anywhere else in France.[7]

A sizable minority of 32% Muslims in Marseille were born in France. Muslim immigrants to the city are mostly from the Maghreb and Comoro Islands.[11] Muslims are particularly concentrated in the North districts ("quartiers Nord"), in the working-class districts of the city.[12]


According to a 2011 survey, three-quarters of the Muslims in Marseille considered themselves actively observant Muslims, one-quarter responded no, and 3% of respondents declined to answer. Of those who considered themselves actively observant, 40% stated that they prayed, and 11% added that they attended a mosque on a regular basis. The intensity of religious practice was not gender-related; a few more women indicated they actively practised (39%, in comparison with 35% of men).[13]


Second World War[edit]

In August 1944, Marseille was liberated from the Germans by the 3rd Algerian Infantry Division, supported by Moroccan Goumiers. The 3rd Algerian Infantry Division, under the command of General de Monsabert, was made up of about 60% North African Muslims (mostly Algerian Tirailleurs).[14][15][16] According to John Gimlette, "the North Africans who liberated Marseille still inhabit the city, less now in body than spirit".[17]

Immigration to Marseille[edit]

Muslim immigration from the Maghreb (Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia) started to increase in the 1970s. Marseille's population of Algerian descent is estimated to be at least 150,000.[18] Over the last 30 years, the city has become the main destination for Comorian immigrants. As of 2014, there is approximately 61,700 Turks also living in Marseille.[19]


The Museum of the Jewish People at Beit Hatfutsot estimated that around 80,000 Jews lived in Marseille in 2013, comprising just under 10% of the city's population. The majority of Marseille's Jewish families live in the areas of St. Marguerite, Parc Fleuri, and La Rose.[20] In 2017, Marseille had the third-largest Jewish population of any urban center in Europe.[21] There are around 50 synagogues in the country, 47 of which are Orthodox.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "2011 Census: KS209EW Religion, local authorities in England and Wales". Retrieved 15 December 2012. 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ Taylor, Adam (2015-01-09). "Map: France's growing Muslim population". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2017-09-19. 
  7. ^ a b c Laurence, Jonathan (March 22, 2012). "Marseille's Charmed Life May Not Last". The New York Times. Retrieved September 18, 2017. 
  8. ^ "Resentment grows between Christians and Muslims in France". PBS NewsHour. 2015-01-09. Retrieved 2017-09-19. 
  9. ^ A survey of high-school students carried out in 2000–2001 suggests that 30–40 per cent of young people have a Muslim background, F. Lorcerie, "Cités cosmopolites. Sur les identités sociales des lycéens marseillais" (Cosmopolitan estates. On the social identities of high-school students of Marseille), Report for FASILD, IREMAMCNRS, Aix-en-Provence, January 2005. Survey carried out with V. Geisser and L. Panafit.
  10. ^ Azadé, Annabelle (2015-03-03). "Marseille's Muslims need their Grand Mosque – why is it still a car park?". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-09-19. 
  11. ^ Lorcerie & Geisser 2011, p. 35
  12. ^ Lorcerie & Geisser 2011, p. 104
  13. ^ Lorcerie & Geisser 2011, p. 66
  14. ^ Paul Gaujac, Le Corps expéditionnaire français en Italie, Histoire et collections, 2003, p. 31
  15. ^ Anthony Clayton, France, Soldiers, and Africa, Brassey's Defence Publishers, 1988
  16. ^ Belkacem Recham, Algerian muslims in the French Army (1919–1945), L'Harmattan, 1996
  17. ^ John Gimlette, Panther soup: travels through Europe in war and peace, Alfred A. Knopf, 2008, p.75
  18. ^ Lorcerie & Geisser 2011, p. 101
  19. ^ Zaman France. "La communauté turque compte 611.515 personnes en France". Retrieved 2014-12-21. 
  20. ^ "Marseille: Open Databases". The Museum of the Jewish People at Beit Hatfutsot. Retrieved 18 September 2017. 
  21. ^ Ruiz, Teofilo F. (14 August 2017). The Western Mediterranean and the World: 400 CE to the Present. John Wiley & Sons. p. 255. ISBN 9781118871423. Retrieved 18 September 2017. 
  22. ^ Liphshiz, Cnaan (August 8, 2017). "It's Jew vs. Jew in France as conflict over women reading Torah turns ugly". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved September 20, 2017.