France government has ordered the closure of a mosque in Allonnes near Le Mans for harbouring ‘radical Islam’ and ‘legitimising terrorist attacks’. Interior minister Gerald Darmanin said that the managers and imams at the mosque allowed actions that run counter to the ‘values of the Republic’.
The mosque has been shut down for six months, Darmanin said, adding that the bank accounts of the mosque’s administrators were also seized.
The charges against the mosque include inciting hatred towards France, Westerners, Christians, and Jews. “The sermons propagated in this mosque cultivating hatred toward France,” Darmanin wrote on Twitter, defending the closure. The administration said that apart from hatred and discrimination”, the mosque also promoted “the establishment of sharia” in France.
Along with the mosque, a Quranic school hosted by it also has been closed, saying that “armed jihad” was promoted in the school. A pasted sign on the door of the school said on Wednesday that the classes were “suspended until further notice.”
The French Interior Minister also added that plans are underway to shut down seven more associations or religious buildings by the end of the year. The minister also informed about the closure of 13 religious associations since President Emmanuel Macron took office in Elysee Palace.
The Sarthe Governorate on Oct. 25 released a statement saying that the mosque with a congregation of 300 people in Allonnes was closed for six months on the grounds that it “defended radical Islam.” The purge was part of a campaign that has been criticized worldwide by international human rights organizations as well as global leaders, particularly in Muslim-majority countries.
President Emmanuel Macron launches sweeping measures to tackle the menace of Islamist separatism
The purge is a part of a campaign launched by France to combat the menace of Islamism that is steadily increasing in the country and whose ugly manifestation was witnessed last year in the form of the brutal killing of a French teacher for reportedly reproducing pictures of Prophet Muhammad.
Samuel Paty, a school teacher, was publicly beheaded by a radical Islamist for showing a caricature of Prophet Muhammad to his students. He was beheaded by a Russian refugee Abdoullakh Abouyezidovitch who was inspired by an online campaign that was run against Paty for alleged blasphemy.
The incident had sparked a nationwide reckoning about the threats posed by the prevalence of Islamism and institutions that played vital role in supporting and promoting it. French President Emmanuel Macron decided to grasp the nettle and announced that his government would take measures to curb what he described as Islamist separatism.
92 of the total 2,500 mosques were closed down as a part of the French government’s clampdown against Islamic extremism since September 2020. The residence permits of 36,000 foreigners were been canceled on the grounds that they posed a threat to public order.
French government passes anti-separatism bill to curb rising Islamism
The French government had earlier this year also passed the “anti-separatism” law that was assumed to counter the menace of Islamist-driven attacks. The bill contained a range of measures on the neutrality of the civil service, the fight against online hatred and the protection of civil servants such as teachers.
A provision of the law introduced an offence for wilfully endangering the life of others through spreading information about a person’s private life. It carried punishments of up to three years in jail and a €45,000 fine.
Another prominent measure in the bill said associations will have to be signatories of a republican commitment contract to qualify for state subsidies.
The law granted sweeping powers to the authorities to intervene in mosques and associations on administration related queries as well as in matters related to finances of associations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).