France closes 22 radical mosques
In recent months, French authorities have inspected 99 mosques suspected of promoting separatist ideology. 22 of them have now been closed.
Gerald Darmanin, the Minister of the Interior, announced on 12th January the closure of the latest one: the Al Madina Al Mounawara mosque in Cannes.
“It appears that the Al Madina Al Mounawara mosque, promotes hate speech towards France, its institutions and its laws on the one hand, makes remarks inciting hatred towards homosexuals or transgender people on the other hand and finally, expresses explicit anti-Semitic hatred”.
In a tweet, he said:
Speaking on CNEWS, he highlighted the mosque’s “anti-Semitic remarks, support for the Collective against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) and for BarakaCity”. David Lisnard, the mayor of Cannes, said the decision was made following “meticulous research by the authorities and many tip-offs since 2015”.
Christian Gravel, secretary general of the Interministerial Committee for the Prevention of Delinquency and Radicalisation (CPIDR), which coordinates the response of state services on this issue, said in an interview with the newspaper Marianne that the administration had “put itself in battle order”. Detailing theGovernment’s overall strategy, he explains that it involves: “A sovereign pillar, which aims to hinder separatist ecosystems and therefore involves closing certain places; a social pillar, which aims to put the State and public services back at the heart of territories in difficulty; and an “Islam of France” pillar, which aims to support the structuring of Islam in France.” Such a large-scale strategy is unprecedented in France.
According to the Interior Ministry, 36 of the 99 recently investigated mosques now follow the laws of the Republic “following a change of imam or governance”.
A senior official, also interviewed by Marianne, further emphasises how clear the change in strategy is. “During the previous five-year terms, such closures could be counted on one hand” because of the lack of legal levers and political will to carry out these operations. “France has been confronted with the problem of Islamist radicalisation for at least three decades. Awareness of the importance of mobilising the entire state apparatus to prevent the conditions that lead to radicalisation is very recent”.
Read the press release on the closure of the Al Madina Al Mounawara mosque here.
Watch the CNEWS interview with Gerald Darmanin here.