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France Cracks Down on ‘Islamist Separatism,’ Shuts Down 9 Mosques

The closing of mosques is part of France’s massive surveillance operation targeting its Muslim minority.

French authorities have shut down 9 mosques since the month of December. “Among the 18 places of worship that were particularly monitored at my request, 9 were closed down,” the French minister of interior Gerard Darmanin tweeted on January 15. “The crackdown on Muslim places of worship is in line with the state’s “determined action against Islamist separatism.” 

Since December 2020, the French government has launched a massive and unprecedented surveillance operation targeting Muslim mosques, schools, and civil society organizations. The security measures intended to fight what Darmanin calls “religious extremism.” 

Darmin announced  on December 2 that 76 mosques were under investigation for being a threat to national security and for suspicions of “Islamist separatism.” 

France has also clamped down on a number of Muslim civil society organizations. Darmanin’s campaign intends to close a number of associations that he deems to be “enemies of the republic.” 

In November of last year, the French minister of interior dissolved Barakacity, a Muslim humanitarian association that provided social aid in France and around the world. Shortly after, Darmanin continued his crackdown by closing down the Collective against Islamophobia in France (CCIF). 

Founded in 2003, CCIF is a renowned organization that was active in providing legal aid to victims of islamophobia and systemic racism. The organization was a consultative member of the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Darmanin accused the collective of “spreading Islamic propaganda” and being complicit in “radicalism.” 

The French government’s repressive measures have raised alarming concerns on Islamophobia in France. “Shutting down an organization that raises legitimate concerns about anti-Muslim prejudice is blaming the messenger rather than addressing existing discrimination,” said Kartik Raj, a researcher at Human Rights Watch. 

For Raj, the French government’s heavy-handed security operations risk further stigmatizing France’s Muslim communities. Nils Muižnieks, Europe Director at Amnesty International said the dissolution sends a worrying signal to anti-racist and anti-discriminatory organizations and risks citizens freedoms.  

French journalist and activist Siham Assebague tweeted  the dissolution of the CCIF and Barakacity showed it is “the political expression of Muslims that they want to muzzle, their criticism of the French state, and their autonomous organization.”

Source: Morocco World News.

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