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.
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According to the prefecture of the Oise region, where Beauvais is located, the mosque in Beauvais, a town of 50,000 people located 100 kilometers (62 miles) north of Paris, will be closed for six months.
The sermons there, according to the report, incite hatred, violence, and “defend jihad.”
The move comes two weeks after Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin announced that the procedure to close the site had been initiated because the imam there “targets Christians, homosexuals, and Jews” in his sermons. This was “unacceptable,” according to the minister.
Local authorities were required by law to conduct a 10-day investigation before taking action, but they told AFP on Tuesday that the mosque would be closed in two days.
The mosque’s imam, according to the local newspaper Courrier Picard, was a recent convert to Islam.
According to the newspaper, a lawyer for the mosque’s managing association stated that the imam’s remarks were “taken out of context,” and that the imam had been suspended from his duties as a result of the prefecture’s letter.
Earlier this year, the French government announced that it would increase inspections of places of worship and organizations suspected of spreading radical Islamic propaganda.
The crackdown followed the assassination of teacher Samuel Paty in October 2020, who was targeted as a result of an online campaign against him for showing controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed published by the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo during a civics class.
According to the interior ministry, around 100 mosques and Muslim prayer halls out of a total of more than 2,600 in France have been investigated in recent months on suspicion of spreading “separatist” ideology.
It said six sites were being investigated with the goal of shutting them down in accordance with French laws against extremism and Islamist separatism.
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