France has ordered the immediate closure of a mosque in the northern part of the country because of the radical nature of its imam’s preaching which the government described as “unacceptable”.
AFP reported on Tuesday that the mosque in Beauvais, a town of 50,000 people some 62 miles north of Paris, will remain shut for six months, according to the prefecture of the Oise region where Beauvais is located.
Authorities in the Oise region had already announced that they were considering closing down the mosque because of sermons they said incited hatred, violence, and “defend jihad.”
The Interior Minister, Gerald Darmanin, said he had triggered the procedure to close the mosque because the imam there “was targeting Christians, homosexuals, and Jews” in his sermons.
An official told AFP that a letter had been sent last week announcing that the mosque would now be shut within two days, 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’, noting that the imam had been suspended from his duties following the prefecture’s letter.
The French government announced earlier this year that it would step up checks of places of worship and associations suspected of spreading 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 having shown controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed published by the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo during a civics class.
The interior ministry said this month that around 100 mosques and Muslim prayer halls out of France’s total number of more than 2,600 have been investigated over recent months because of suspicion that they were spreading ‘separatist’ ideology.
Six sites were being probed with a view to closing them down on the basis of French laws against extremism and Islamist separatism, it said.
KanyiDaily recalls that Malaysia’s former prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad had launched a controversial outburst saying that Muslims have a right to “kill millions of French people”.