France orders dissolution of four Hezbollah aligned organisations
Centres used as fronts by groups committed to arms and violence
French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner has proposed a clampdown on Zahra Centre France, Anti-Zionist Party, Shia Federation of France and France Marianne TV in a meeting with President Emmanuel Macron.
Interior Ministry said the groups sympathise with Hamas through the internet and “the armed wing of Hezbollah, all listed on the list of terrorist organisations of of the EU”.
French police last year seized weapons and detained 11 people in a raid on Zahra Centre France, one of the largest Shiite centres in Europe, near the northern town of Dunkirk.
The Anti-Zionist Party, Shia Federation of France and France Marianne TV had bases in the same office as the Zahra Centre France.
The French government froze the assets of the Shiite group in a co-ordinated response.
Assest from the Iranian Ministry of Security and Intelligence, and of two Iranian men thought to be members of the country’s intelligence service, were also frozen as part of an anti-terrorism raid last year.
The Zahra Centre France website claims that the association provides “scientific, educational, religious and gnostic” knowledge, and makes films exploring “social, family and religious structure”.
Zahra Centre France was founded in 2009 by Yahia Gouasmi, and appears to have two other leaders, Tahiri Jamel and Khalid Adelkri, its website says.
French media report that Mr Gouasmi supports the Lebanese group Hezbollah and the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He is also the founder of the Anti-Zionist Party.
The raids were carried out according to the provisions of the tough anti-terrorism law passed by the French parliament in October 2017.
An official statement accused the centre's leaders of "pronounced support for several terrorist organisations and in favour of movements advocating ideas contrary to the values of the republic”.
France is not the only country to crack down on extreme groups.
Britain has made it a criminal offence for anyone in the UK to support Hezbollah, after the group was added to the “terrorist” organisations list in February.
UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid said he could no longer distinguish between Hezbollah’s political and military arms.
Updated: March 22, 2019 04:57 AM