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CRIME

France closes mosque after ‘unacceptable’ preaching

The imam of the mosque of Beauvais, not far from the French capital, has been accused of inciting hatred against Christians, Jews and homosexuals. The mosque has been ordered to close for six months.

A mosque in the French town of Beauvais has been closed down after the imam was accused of hate speech.
A mosque in the French town of Beauvais has been closed down after the imam was accused of hate speech. (Photo by BERTRAND GUAY / AFP)

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 kilometres (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, violence and “defend jihad”.

The move 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 launch a 10-day period of information-gathering before taking action, but told AFP on Tuesday that the mosque would now be shut within two days.

Local daily Courrier Picard reported this month that the mosque’s imam was a recent convert to Islam.

The paper quoted a lawyer for the association managing the mosque as saying that his remarks had been “taken out of context”, and said that the imam had been suspended from his duties following the prefecture’s letter.

The French government announced earlier this 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.

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 Islamist separatism, it said.

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CRIME

Pensioner held over murder on French nudist beach

A 75-year-old man has been arrested in France over a murder on a well-known nudist beach outside the southeastern city of Lyon, prosecutors said.

Pensioner held over murder on French nudist beach

The victim, aged 46, was killed on Saturday at the La Mama beach on a lake in the Lyon suburb of Miribel, regional prosecutors said.

The 75-year-old is suspected of shooting the victim multiple times in the bushes nearby following a dispute that arose after the younger man allegedly exposed himself in front of a woman, they added.

The regional daily Le Progres said that the suspect is a member of a shooting club and legally possesses a calibre 22 rifle. The victim was known to the police, it said.

The Le Parisien daily added that according to its information the victim had been a cause of trouble on the beach all Saturday morning with tensions rising to a peak when he began to masturbate in front of a woman.

An altercation ensued at which point the septuagenarian reached for his gun.

Le Progres said that at the peak of the summer season the beach — well known to Lyon’s inhabitants — was operating as normal on Sunday.

Participants in the World Naked Bike Ride France arrived even as police carried out investigations and images showed naked bathers enjoying the hot weather.

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