- France orders closure of mosque in north because of radical nature of its imam’s preaching.
- It says that sermons there incite hatred and violence.
- Association managing the mosque files for an injunction to overturn the ban.
France has ordered the closure of a mosque in the north of the country because of the radical nature of its imam’s preaching, regional authorities told AFP on Tuesday.
The mosque in Beauvais, a town of 50,000 people some 100 kilometers (62 miles) north of Paris, will remain shut for six months, according to the prefecture of the Oise region where Beauvais is located.
It said the sermons there incite hatred and violence.
The move on the mosque, which has a congregation of about 400, comes two weeks after Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said he had triggered the procedure to close the site because the imam there “is targeting Christians, homosexuals, and Jews” in his sermons. This, the minister said, was “unacceptable”.
Local authorities were legally bound to observe a 10-day period of information-gathering before taking action but the mosque would now be shut within two days.
A lawyer for the association managing the mosque said that it had filed for an injunction to overturn the ban.
The lawyer, Samim Bolaky, said there would be a court hearing on the appeal within 48 hours.
The authorities said the imam, who the association claims had preached only occasionally and had now been suspended, was, in fact, a regular presence at the mosque, according to the official document citing the reasons for the closure seen by AFP.
It said the imam had incited hatred and also labelled non-Muslims as “enemies”.
“The terrorist threat remains at a very high level” and the closure had “the aim of forestalling acts of terrorism being committed”, the document said.
The French government announced earlier this year that it would step up checks of places of worship and associations suspected of spreading radical propaganda.
The interior ministry said this month that around 100 mosques and Muslim prayer halls out of France’s total number of more than 2,600 have been investigated over recent months because of suspicion that they were spreading “separatist” ideology.
Six sites were being probed with a view to closing them down on the basis of French laws against extremism and separatism, it said.