France closes 20 more mosques in fresh assault on religious freedom
In a fresh assault on religious freedom of Muslims, French government has closed at least 21 more mosques in the country, accusing them of so-called "promoting extremism".
France’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, appearing on the French television LCI on Sunday, said “21 mosques that showed signs of extremism” had been closed in the country.
The minister said they recently carried out raids at 99 mosques on “suspicion of extremism”, and closed 21 of the mosques in question while the process of closing 6 others was underway.
Darmanin further claimed that these steps were taken on the basis of the so-called “separatist” law.
He said 36 mosques were left open “because they did not contradict the laws of the Republic,” while other mosques were stopped from receiving external funding and the prayer leader of one of the mosques was dismissed on suspicion of extremism.
The move is seen as yet another Islamophobic attack targeting the country’s persecuted minority Muslim community, which have seen deep marginalization and witch-hunt in recent years.
On July 2021, the lower house of the French parliament approved a controversial bill targeting religious freedom and stigmatizing Muslims, while tightening rules on the funding of mosques, associations, and non-governmental organizations belonging to Muslims.
In an act to enforce the law, the main association in defense of Muslims, the CCIF, was also dissolved.
The bill also targeted Muslim girls under the age of 18 by banning the wearing of hijab - a headdress worn by Muslim women - in public places.
Pertinently, Muslim women are banned from sending their children to school in Islamic veil in France.
Human rights groups have raised grave concerns over the law, saying it discriminates and stigmatizes French Muslims.
Last year, two Muslim women wearing headscarves were stabbed near the Eiffel Tower in Paris amid heightened racial tensions, but French state media chose to stay silent on the incident.
More than 5 million Muslims live in France, who account for the largest Muslim population in Europe, along with German Muslims.