France shuts down mosque over alleged pro-violence sermons
France’s government has shut down a mosque in the country’s northern region of Oise due to alleged pro-violence sermons, BBC News reported.
Local authorities said sermons at the Great Mosque of Beauvais “defended jihad and referred to jihadist fighters as “heroes,” according to BBC News. They also alleged that the sermons incited hatred and violence.
France’s interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, said he was beginning the process of closing the Great Mosque of Beauvais two weeks earlier. He said at that time that the imam’s sermons were “targeting Christians, homosexuals, and Jews,” according to BBC News.
According to Agence France-Presse, the local Courrier Picard newspaper reported this month that the imam had only recently converted to Islam.
An attorney for the association managing the mosque told the Picard that the imam’s remarks were “taken out of context,” saying the imam was suspended from his duties at the mosque, BBC News reported.
This news comes as the French government has been conducting checks on Islamic places of worship with suspected links to extremism, according to BBC News.
Darmanin said last year when announcing a crackdown on such mosques that they could be closed if it was determined they were encouraging “separatism,” per the news outlet.
According to BBC News, the crackdown followed two violent incidents in October 2020 believed to be perpetrated by Islamist extremists: the beheading of teacher Samuel Paty in a suburb of Paris and the fatal stabbing of three people in a cathedral in Nice.
Daramanin said around 100 mosques and prayer halls out of a total of more than 2,620 in the country have been investigated for extremism by the interior ministry in recent months.
Local authorities have shut down the Beauvais mosque for six months and given the mosque 10 days to respond, according to BBC News.