France has ordered the shutdown of a mosque in the country’s north due to the extremist character of the imam’s preaching.
According to the prefecture of the Oise region, where Beauvais is located, the mosque in Beauvais, a town of 50,000 people located 100 kilometres (62 miles) north of Paris, would be closed for six months.
According to the report, the sermons there encourage hatred, violence and “defend jihad.”
The move comes two weeks after Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin announced that the procedure to close the location had been initiated because the imam there “targets Christians, homosexuals, and Jews” in his sermons. This was “unacceptable”, according to the ministry.
Local officials were required by law to conduct a 10-day investigation before taking action, but they announced on Tuesday that the mosque would be closed within two days.
According to a local newspaper, the mosque’s imam has been recently converted to Islam. A lawyer representing the mosque’s governing organisation stated that, “the imam’s words were taken out of context, and the imam had been suspended from his duties as a result of the prefecture’s letter.
Earlier this year, the French government declared that it would increase inspections of worship places and organisations accused of disseminating extremist 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 caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed published by the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo during 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 probed in recent months on suspicion of disseminating “separatist” doctrine.
Ministry said six sites were being investigated to shut down French legislation against extremism and Islamist separatism.