The French government has shut down nine masājid since early December 2020, when President Emmanuel Macron along with senior Cabinet colleagues announced an investigation into nearly a hundred masājid across the French Republic.
Al-Araby reports that of the nine forced to close their doors, eight were closed due to ‘administrative reasons’.
Conformément aux instructions du Président de la République et du Premier ministre, nous menons une action déterminée contre le séparatisme islamiste.
👉 Parmi les 18 lieux de culte qui étaient particulièrement surveillés à ma demande, 9 ont pu être ferméshttps://t.co/E2dfPLLuBW
— Gérald DARMANIN (@GDarmanin) January 15, 2021
“In accordance with the instructions of the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister, we are taking determined action against Islamist separatism. Among the 18 places of worship which were under special surveillance at my request, 9 were able to be closed.”
France has been taking a tough line against Europe’s largest Muslim community in recent months, seeing the Muslim population as a threat against its secularist nature.
In line with this unfounded sentiment towards Muslims, the French government initiated a probe into seventy-six masājid in December, with Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin saying:
“76 mosques are now suspected of separatism. In the coming days, checks will be carried out on these places of worship. If ever these doubts are confirmed, I will ask for their closure.”
The country has been rocked by a number of attacks that have been blamed on ‘Islamists’, with the most recent being the beheading of middle-school teacher Samuel Paty. The teacher sparked a deep sense of anger amongst not only French Muslims but also others around the world by showing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a lesson on 6th October.
To confound matters, President Macron foolishly gave his backing to Paty by posthumously awarding him the Légion d’honneur, France’s highest honour. This drew the ire of millions around the globe, as the President essentially gave a green light to discrimination and mockery of Islam in the spirit of ‘freedom of speech’.
The ensuing global outrage from the Muslim world led to boycotts in Turkey, Qatar, and Kuwait. Demonstrations occurred in Indonesia, Mauritania, Iraq, and in particular in Dhaka, Bangladesh, with around 40,000 protesters demanding a boycott on French goods.
At the time, the Head of the Chechen Republic said in an explosive video released on Telegram:
“The president of France is himself beginning to look like a terrorist… By supporting provocations, he covertly calls on Muslims to commit crimes. Until it’s too late, Macron, stop your provocations and attacks on the faith. Otherwise, you will go down in history as a president who has taken mad decisions… You can easily call yourself the leader and architect of terrorism in your country.”
Shaheer is a regular contributor for Islam21c. He maintains a strong interest in current affairs, as well as the changing global conditions of Muslim populations. Prior to joining Islam21c, he developed a number of years’ experience in the health and social care sector and has previously volunteered at the Muslim Youth Helpline.