France closes mosque north of Paris after “unacceptable” preaching

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France has ordered the closure of a mosque in the north of the country because of the radical nature of its imam’s preaching, regional authorities told AFP on Tuesday.

The Beauvais mosque, a town of 50,000 inhabitants located about a hundred kilometers north of Paris, will remain closed for six months, according to the Oise prefecture where Beauvais is located.

He said the sermons there incite hatred, violence and “defend jihad.”

The move comes two weeks after Home Secretary Gerald Darmanin said he had initiated proceedings to shut down the site because the imam there “targets Christians, gays and Jews” in his sermons. This, the minister said, was “unacceptable”.

Local authorities were legally required to launch a 10-day information-gathering period before taking action, but told AFP on Tuesday that the mosque would now be closed within two days.

Local daily Courrier Picard reported this month that the mosque’s imam was a recent convert to Islam.

The newspaper quotes a lawyer of the association managing the mosque who would have declared that his words had been “taken out of context”, and that the imam had been suspended from his functions following the letter of the prefecture.

The French government announced earlier this year that it would tighten controls on places of worship and associations suspected of disseminating radical Islamic propaganda.

The crackdown came after the October 2020 murder of teacher Samuel Paty who was targeted following an online campaign against him for showing controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad published by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo during a civic education course.

The Interior Ministry said this month that around 100 Muslim mosques and prayer rooms out of a total of more than 2,600 in France have been investigated in recent months due to suspicion of the dissemination of a “separatist” ideology.

Six sites were being investigated with a view to shutting them down on the basis of French laws against extremism and Islamist separatism, he said.

(AFP)

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