France is to close up to 160 mosques in the coming months as part of a nationwide police operation under the state of emergency which allows places of worship that promote radical views to be shut down, one of the country’s chief imams has said.
Hassan El Alaoui, who is in charge of nominating regional and local Muslim imams and mediating between the imams and prison officials, told Al Jazeera on Wednesday that more were set to be shut.
“According to official figures and our discussions with the interior ministry, between 100 and 160 more mosques will be closed because they are run illegally without proper licenses, they preach hatred, or use takfiri speech,” he said. Takfiris are classified as Muslims who accuse others of the same faith of apostasy, an act which has become a sectarian slur.
Meanwhile, there are fears that France’s Muslim minority, the largest in any European country, is facing increased persecution as some fail to differentiate between Muslims and those who join or support armed groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant(ISIL) group, which claimed responsibility for the deadly violence on November 13.