French court backs closure of Muslim NGO for ‘inciting hatred’

France's highest administrative court on Wednesday rejected appeals against the dissolution of a Muslim NGO and the six-month closing down of a mosque ordered by the government after the beheading of a teacher by an Islamist radical.

French court backs closure of Muslim NGO for 'inciting hatred'
A view of the Grand Mosque de Pantin, shut for six months. Photo: AFP

President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to crack down on radical Islamist activity in France following the October 16th murder of teacher Samuel Paty who had showed his class cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

The Council of State ruled that the dissolution of the BarakaCity NGO as ordered by the government could be justified on account of comments “inciting discrimination, violence and hatred” by the group's head, it said in a statement.

The government had ordered the dissolution of BarakaCity in late October, accusing it of links to “the radical Islamist movement” and “justifying terrorist acts”.

It said that the group had published violent and discriminatory comments on its own social media accounts and through that of its founder and leader Idriss Sihamedi.

But the group, which insists it has a strictly humanitarian mission to help millions of people around the world, denied the charges and appealed the decision.

In a separate ruling, the court also confirmed the closure for six months of the mosque in Pantin, to the north of Paris, following an appeal against the government's ruling by the local Muslim association.

The court said that the closure was justified as the comments made by the mosque's officials and the ideas it discussed were a “provocation” that could lead to acts of violence.

It has notably been accused of sharing a video posted by the father of a pupil at Paty's school that publicly attacked the teacher for showing the cartoons in class.

An imam who was on duty at the time had received training in a fundamentalist institute in Yemen and has since left the mosque.

The mosque's lawyers William Bourdon and Vincent Brengarth expressed dismay at the ruling saying that it was prepared to give guarantees to allow its rapid reopening.

Macron's approach has won praise from supporters inside France who say he is showing the courage to confront radical Islamist activity that has been ignored for too long.

But critics, including some in English-language media, have accused the president of going too far and adopting a heavy-handed approach towards France's largest religious minority.

Member comments

  1. well done France & Macron the rest of the world need to follow your fair and reasoned resistance to violence in the name of any religion

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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.