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French police arrest head of Muslim NGO after raiding his house

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The file photo shows Idriss Sihamedi, the president and founder of the Muslim charity BarakaCity, an NGO based in France.

Police in France have arrested the head of a Muslim non-governmental organization (NGO), shortly after President Emmanuel Macron mounted an abrupt, harsh attack on Islam.

An elite force of the French police raided the house of Idriss Sihamedi, the president and founder of the Muslim charity BarakaCity, and arrested him on Wednesday.

The NGO said in a report on social media that, “Idriss was violently beaten by a police officer who pressed his head against the [floor] tiles while he was not resisting and [was] cooperating.”

Furthermore, Sihamedi’s wife was not allowed to wear her hijab and was forcefully handcuffed as the NGO’s social media channels were broadcasting the raid live.

A BarakaCity employee filmed the interior of the premises after the raid, showing surveillance cameras broken, and doors, books, and files turned over.

The international non-profit organization was founded in 2008 to help deprived members of the Muslim communities in several countries, including Togo, Palestine, Congo, Niger, and Syria.

The French authorities have not yet issued an official statement about the incident, but Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin had recently accused Sihamedi of “condoning terrorism” in a tweet before deleting it, according to Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency.

Dozens of mosques, schools closed 

A day earlier and during a presser, the French minister had said that a total of 73 mosques, private schools, and workplaces had been shut down since January “in the fight against radicalization.”

“We must expel 231 foreigners from French territory, who are residing there illegally, and are being pursued on charges of extremism, including 180 in prison,” he said on Tuesday.

Earlier, Sihamedi had called for a united Muslim response to Macron’s attempts to control the public life and private beliefs of Muslims, according to Anadolu.

On October 2, the French president unveiled a draft law that would boost secularism in France, which is home to the largest population of Muslims in Western Europe. According to the draft law, some NGOs or organizations that allegedly “act against the law and values of the country” might be shut down or face tight financial audits.

In the speech unveiling the law, Macron claimed Islam was “in crisis” and said the law had been designed to combat what he described as “Islamist separatism” in France.

The French president’s speech and draft law were widely criticized by French Muslims, who were concerned about potential hate crimes against them.

The French government has already targeted the Muslim community in France by banning the Islamic hijab.

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