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ISLAM

Pigs’ heads dumped outside French mosque

Muslims attending morning prayers Wednesday were confronted by two pigs' heads in the entrance to their mosque in a French town where an Islamist gunman killed two paratroopers in March.

The incident in Montauban was described as a "racist provocation" by a watchdog which monitors anti-Islamic actions in France and as an "odious and

blasphemous act" by the Montauban mayor, Brigitte Bareges.

It was the first of its kind in the southern Tarn-et-Garonne region but officials refused to speculate on a possible link to the March tragedy.

The paratroopers killed in March were two of the seven victims of Mohamed Merah, who also shot dead three Jewish schoolchildren, a rabbi and another
soldier in nearby Toulouse before being killed himself in a police siege of his apartment.

Hajii Mohamed, the imam at the mosque, told AFP the people who had left the pigs' heads had also spilled a large amount of blood on the floor of the
entrance to the mosque, which is located in a town house that has been converted to a place of worship.

"It is contemptible," the imam told AFP. "To attack a religion like this, I don't know what is happening. People lose their heads, especially during
Ramadan."

Abdallah Zekri, the chairman of France's Islamophobia Observatory, said Wednesday's outrage occurred against the background of an increase in
anti-Muslim actions in the first half of 2012.

"For this to occur during the holy month of Ramadan, it's unspeakable," he said. "It is racist provocation."

Wednesday's incident also came hot on the heels of a controversy over the treatment of four young Muslims who were sacked for observing the Ramadan
daytime fast while looking after children on a summer camp.

The town council which had dismissed the four instructors reacted to an outcry over the issue on Tuesday by announcing that it would no longer enforce
a requirement for summer camp workers to eat and drink in the middle of the day.

French authorities have also been at odds with the biggest Islamic community in Europe over legislation which bans women from wearing full veils
while recent elections have been marked by debate over the use of halal methods of animal slaughter.

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POLITICS

French minster orders closure of Cannes mosque over anti-Semitic remarks

France's interior minister said on Wednesday he had ordered the closure of a mosque on the French Riviera because of anti-Semitic remarks made there.

The French riviera town of Cannes
The French riviera town of Cannes. Photo: Joel Saget/AFP

Gerald Darmanin said the mosque in the seaside city of Cannes was also guilty of supporting CCIF and BarakaCity, two associations that the government dissolved at the end of last year for spreading “Islamist” propaganda.

Darmanin told broadcaster CNews that he had consulted with the mayor of Cannes, David Lisnard, before shutting down the mosque.

The move comes two weeks after authorities closed a mosque in the north of the country because of what they said was the radical nature of its imam’s preaching.

The mosque in Beauvais, a town of 50,000 people some 100 kilometres north of Paris, was shut for six months because the sermons there incited hatred and violence and “defend jihad”, authorities said.

Last October, a mosque in Allonnes, 200 kilometres west of Paris, was closed also for six months for sermons defending armed jihad and “terrorism”, according to regional authorities.

The French government announced last year that it would step up checks of places of worship and associations suspected of spreading radical Islamic propaganda.

The crackdown came after the October 2020 murder of teacher Samuel Paty, who was targeted following an online campaign against him for having shown controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed published by the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo during a civics class.

In the interview on Wednesday, the interior minister said that 70 mosques in France were considered to be “radicalised”.

According to the ministry, there are a total of 2,623 mosques and Muslim prayer halls in the country.

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