France closes mosque for 'inciting hatred'

Mosque in Beauvais ordered to close two weeks after Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin triggered the procedure

France's Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, centre, ordered the mosque closure. AFP
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A French mosque has been closed for six months because of radical preaching, regional officials said on Tuesday.

The suspension, which will start within two days, was ordered after sermons that allegedly incited hatred and violence, according to the Oise region prefecture.

The mosque in Beauvais, a town of 50,000 people about 100 kilometres north of Paris, was ordered to close two weeks after Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin triggered the procedure and a 10-day period of information-gathering began.

He said the imam there “is targeting Christians, homosexuals and Jews” in his sermons. This, the minister said, was unacceptable.

The regional daily newspaper, 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 that the imam had been suspended from his duties after the prefecture's letter.

The French government announced earlier this year that it would step up checks on places of worship and associations suspected of spreading radical Islamic propaganda

The crackdown came after the October 2020 murder of teacher Samuel Paty.

Paty was the subject of an online campaign of hate after he had used the controversial Charlie Hebdo magazine during a civics class.

According to the interior ministry, 99 mosques and Muslim prayer halls out of France’s total of 2,623 have been investigated in recent months because they were suspected of spreading separatist ideology.

Of the total, 21 are currently shut, for various reasons, and six are being investigated with a view to closing them down on the basis of French laws against extremism and religious social separatism.

Updated: December 28, 2021, 12:34 PM