France has ordered the suspension of a mosque for six months over what the government has called inciting “violence” and “hatred.”
The prefecture of the Oise region announced on Tuesday that the large mosque in Beauvais Town, in northern Paris, was ordered shut because of the allegedly radical preaching of its imam.
Local authorities were legally obliged to gather detailed information about the accusations in a 10-day period before taking action but told AFP news agency on Tuesday that the mosque would be shut within two days.
The move comes after Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin announced two weeks ago that he had “set in motion” the procedure for the administrative closure of the mosque because of its imam’s “unacceptable preachings.”
According to Samim Bolaky, a lawyer for Hope and Fraternity organization, which runs the mosque, the imam was suspended from his duties following the prefecture’s letter. The lawyer said that he had appealed against the decision to the administrative court.
Bolaky stressed that certain remarks by the imam had been “taken out of context.” He added that Hope and Fraternity had “always fought terrorism... [and] always promoted living together.”
However, Darmanin rejected the lawyer’s claims, saying that the imam’s remarks “present Western societies as Islamophobic.”
The French government announced earlier this year that it would set in regular checks and controls for Islamic associations that are suspected of radical preaching. The French Interior Ministry claimed that about 100 mosques and Muslim prayer halls had been investigated in recent months, and 25 mosques had been closed over the alleged spreading of “separatist” ideology.
The crackdown came in the wake of the murder of French teacher Samuel Paty, who provoked anger in the Muslim community by showing his students defamatory cartoons of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, earlier published by the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.