France Fights Back, Shutters Mosque After What Imam Allegedly Said
France is shutting down the Great Mosque of Beauvais in the northern region of Oise after authorities said the imam’s radical sermons “defended jihad,” the BBC reported Tuesday.
The Beauvais mosque will remain closed for six months.
The outlet said France has been checking on mosques and Islamic places of worship that have suspected links to terrorism.
The BBC reported that local authorities said sermons at the mosque referred to jihadists as “heroes” and incited violence and hatred.
France’s interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, said two weeks ago that the imam was “targeting Christians, homosexuals, and Jews” in his sermons and started the process to shut down the mosque. Authorities gave the mosque ten days to respond.
The document outlining the closure of the mosque said that “the terrorist threat remains at a very high level,” and the closure had “the aim of forestalling acts of terrorism being committed,” France 24 reported.
The BBC reported that a lawyer for the group managing the mosque told a local newspaper the imam was “speaking voluntarily” and his remarks had been “taken out of context.”
However, the lawyer said the imam had been suspended from his duties.
France has struggled with Islamic terrorist attacks that have killed hundreds of people for the past several years.
In 2015 alone, there were a series of deadly strikes in Paris, including the massacre of 129 people in November and the infamous shootings at the office of Charlie Hebdo magazine that killed 12 people.
The crackdown on places of worship was spurred by the October 2020 murder of Samuel Paty.
Paty was a civics teacher targeted to show students cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that Charlie Hebdo published, France 24 reported.
Since then, authorities have been watching different mosques throughout the country.
“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,” France 24 said.
While it makes sense that the French authorities are monitoring mosques and trying to keep an eye out for terrorist activities, they must be careful not to damage the right to freedom of religion and speech in France.
Of course, the threat of terrorism by radical Islamists has to be monitored, but shutting down a mosque could be an infringement of the right to freedom of religion, which is explicitly laid out in the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.
“No man ought to be molested on account of his opinions, not even on account of his religious opinions, provided his avowal of them does not disturb the public order established by law,” the declaration says.
“The unrestrained communication of thoughts and opinions being one of the most precious rights of man, every citizen may speak, write, and publish freely, provided he is responsible for the abuse of this liberty, in cases determined by law,” it continues.
Of course, an imam’s teachings that promote terrorism or Jihad could rightly be seen as disturbing “the public order established by law.”
But even if closing down the mosque in the name of fighting terrorism is lawful and sensible, it is still essential to beware of the slippery slope of giving the government the power to decide which religions and speech are allowed and which are not.
Notes from the Editor
While I agree with most of this article, I do not question the right to start shuttering mosques preaching hate and radicalism.
While I have no problem with Islam or Christianity teaching what scriptures say about certain lifestyles, such as homosexuality, I have a huge problem when they tell people they have a right to attack these people. Teaching what scriptures say is not an attack, but advocating violence, is a huge issue.
While we hear that Jihad means to sacrifice, it also carries another meaning for many Muslims, and that is to force Islam upon the unwilling to conquer areas that will not submit to their demands. This is not something France, or for that matter, any nation should have to put up within their midst.
The other problem is that the Muslims in France are preaching separatist messages. The majority of these people are immigrants; France took them in, now many are demanding that France give up part of its nation for a separate Muslim nation. In a way, it is a shock due to the gall of these people. They were invited in by the good graces of France; now, they demand the right to take part in the nation.
I would love to say this is not normal; as a rule, mass Islamic migration results in peace, sadly, that is not the case. As the population grows, you see anything but peace. With a 5.6% Muslim population, France starts to see demands by a minority of the nation for major concessions. Polling shows the mental state of the majority of Muslims (although it has to be stated, the Muslims in the West poll much lower than those in the Middle East), and it is not based on peaceful feelings. Polls will not lie, although they can be manipulated.
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