- ALGEMEINER - Ben Cohen - DEC 14, 2021 -
France’s interior minister announced on Tuesday that he had begun the process of shuttering a mosque where sermons promoting antisemitism, anti-Christian hatred and homophobia are frequently preached, he claimed.
In an extensive interview with French broadcaster C News, Gérald Darmanin said that the mosque in Beauvais, a town of 50,000 about 60 miles north of Paris, would be closed down because of the “unacceptable” sermons.
“Today I initiated the closure of the Beauvais mosque, [because of its] unacceptable incitement against Christians, homosexuals, Jews,” Darmanin stated.
Under French law, the Bilal mosque in Beauvais now has 10 days to appeal Darmanin’s order that it be placed under administrative closure for six months.
Darmanin acted after local authorities in the Oise region, where Beauvais is located, said last Friday that they wanted to close the mosque because of the radical Islamist sermons heard there. The prefecture of Oise called for the mosque to be temporary closed, citing sermons that promoted “hatred, violence and jihad.”
Local news outlet Courrier picard reported that the Muslim community in Beauvais had been left “in shock” by the prefecture’s announcement. Samim Bolaky, a lawyer for the mosque, told the paper that the sermons of Imam Islem, who presides at the Beauvais mosque, had been “taken out of context.” He said that the imam had been referring in his sermons to “reported facts dating back more than 1,400 years, in particular on the first two main wars in the history of Islam,” adding that Islem “probably did not have the delicacy to speak in the past tense.” Asked about the charge that Islem incited against the LGBTQ community, Bolaky replied that “the imam only gives the point of view of religion to a question that was put to him. This question was: Is homosexuality allowed in religion?”
In his television interview, Darmanin emphasized that the decision to close the Beauvais mosque was part of a wider campaign against “separatism” — a hotly-debated term taken from legislation introduced by Darmanin last year that includes several measures intended to counter Islamist extremism.
He said that there were presently 2,263 mosques and prayer centers serving French Muslims, and that 99 of these had been investigated in recent months for allegedly promoting “separatist ideology.” A total of 21 mosques had been closed on the basis of the legislation and another six may follow, Darmanin said.
The interior minister’s move came as campaigning for France’s presidential election next year shifted into higher gear. With immigration and French identity crystallizing as key issues in the campaign, the field already includes two far-right candidates — Marine Le Pen of the National Rally (RN) and independent candidate Eric Zemmour — who have pledged to crack down on radicalism among France’s Muslim population of more than five million.
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