| Editorial comment
Paris (France) – France’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told the Cnews TV channel he had ‘triggered’ the process of shutting the mosque in Beauvais, a town of 50,000 some 100 kilometers north of Paris, because of ‘unacceptable’ preaching. The French Minister accused the Imam of ‘targeting Christians, homosexuals and Jews’ in his sermons.
France shuts down Allonnes mosque and Islamic school for harbouring ‘radical Islam’ and promoting ‘armed jihad’, plans to close 7 more
French govt closed mosque in Allonnes accusing it of inciting hatred towards France, Westerners, Christians, and Jewshttps://t.co/SEHwD3V7kx
— OpIndia.com (@OpIndia_com) October 28, 2021
Authorities in the Oise region, where Beauvais is located, had already announced that they were considering closing down the mosque because of sermons they said incited hatred, violence, and ‘defend jihad’.
An official at the Oise prefecture told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that a letter had been sent last week announcing the plan, adding that a 10-day period of information-gathering was legally required before any action could be taken.
Local daily Courrier Picard reported that the mosque’s Imam was a recent convert to Islam. The paper quoted a lawyer for the association managing the mosque as saying that his remarks had been taken out of context and said that the Imam had been suspended from his duties following the prefecture’s letter.
France has launched a major crackdown on the Muslim minority more than a year ago. Closing schools, Muslim organisations and mosques, French authorities have been taking heat from global leaders, human rights groups and activists, who call the move a serious attack on rights and freedoms in France.
Darmanin announced earlier this year that France would step up checks against places of worship and associations suspected of spreading radical propaganda. However, critics say the French authorities use the vague and ill-defined concept of ‘radicalization’ or ‘radical Islam’ to justify the imposition of measures without valid grounds, which risks leading to discrimination in its application against Muslims and other minority groups.
The crackdown came after the October 2020 murder of teacher Samuel Paty who was targeted following an Online campaign against him for having shown controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed published by the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo during a civics class.
French President Emmanuel Macron defended the publication of caricatures that offended Muslims and said he will not prevent the publishing of the cartoons under the pretext of freedom of speech, sparking outrage among the Muslim world.
French Muslims have accused him of trying to repress their religion and legitimizing Islamophobia. Several Muslim-majority countries, including Turkey and Pakistan, have condemned Macron’s attitude toward Muslims and Islam.
According to the Interior Ministry, 99 mosques and Muslim prayer halls out of France’s total number of 2,623 have been investigated in recent months because they were suspected of spreading ‘separatist’ ideology.
Of the total, 21 were currently shut for various reasons, and 6 were being probed with a view to closing them down on the basis of French laws against extremism and separatism.