Europe

French mayor criticizes decision to shut down mosque

Denouncing incompetence of gov't to close mosque in Montmagny, mayor says it has nothing to do with 'radicalism'

Shweta Desai   | 19.01.2021
French mayor criticizes decision to shut down mosque

PARIS

A French city's mayor has lashed out against the government’s “Islamist separatism” campaign after a mosque in his jurisdiction was accused and shut down to combat radicalism.

Patrick Floquet, the mayor of the Montmagny town in northern France, “denounced the incompetence of the government” for closure of a mosque which has functioned without any controversies for the past five years. “There was never any question of closing this mosque for that," he told the French daily Le Parisien.

The mosque is among Muslims' nine places of worship closed by the Interior Ministry. Gerald Darmanin, the interior minister, on Jan. 15 disclosed they were among the 18 places which were particularly under the watch upon his request, without divulging their names or locations.

Among the reasons the mosques were closed were non-compliance of safety standards, disseminating radicalized speeches or practicing separatism, according to the daily Le Figaro. Around 89 places of worship suspected of separatism are under investigation, it added.

The mayor however said that early this month he verified that the mosque had followed up with works related to safety norms, which a security commission in a routine inspection in December had ordered it to do within a month, in order for the place to receive 476 people as authorized by the commission.

“It's a mosque that has never been talked about. A security commission has nothing to do with a connotation of radical Islamism. Five years ago a place of worship had been closed at the request of the prefecture, because of the remarks made there. But this site has no connection with the current mosque,” Floquet said.

On Monday, on the first day of the week-long hearing at the National Assembly by a special committee on the “bill confirming respect for the principles of the Republic,” Darmanin affirmed that Article 44 of the proposed bill “aimed at consolidating the principles of the Republic will allow the regional authorities to temporarily close a place of worship where speeches are made which provoke, justify or encourage hatred or violence.”

He defended the controversial legislation singling out the Muslim population against separatism, saying: “The Republic is under attack by the separatisms on which terrorism is formed” and it is “legitimate for the Republic to take measures to defend itself.”

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