French authorities have said the country will swoop on dozens of mosques and Muslim prayer halls suspected of “radical” teachings as part of a crackdown on “extremists.”
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told RTL radio on Thursday that if any prayer hall was found to promote “extremism” it would be closed down.
Earlier on Twitter, Darmanin said, “Seventy-six mosques suspected of separatism will be checked in the coming days and those that will have to be closed will be.”
The right-wing minister, however, told RTL the fact that only a fraction of the around 2,600 Muslim places of worship in France were suspected of peddling radical theories showed “we are far from a situation of widespread radicalisation.”
“Nearly all Muslims in France respect the laws of the Republic and are hurt by that (radicalisation),” he said.
The inspections to be carried out on Thursday afternoon are part of a response to two attacks in France — the beheading of a teacher who showed his pupils caricatures insulting Prophet Muhammad and the stabbing to death of three people in a church in Nice.
In what the minister described as a “massive and unprecedented” wave of measures to combat religious extremism, state services will be monitoring and controlling 76 Muslim places of worship, 16 in the Paris region and 60 in the rest of France.
According to Le Figaro newspaper, Darmanin sent a circular to the country’s governors on the inspection of the mosques.
Following the murder of teacher Samuel Paty in a Paris suburb in October, raids and pressure on Muslim associations and mosques have increased.
Darmanin said on November 3 that 43 mosques have been closed in the last three years since President Emmanuel Macron took office.
*story by TRT World