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AlJazeera: France to Close Over 100 Mosques


Is this the best response to the attacks in Paris? Shutting down mosques may satiate the appetite to be seen as “doing something” but is it really an effective strategy to combat “extremism” or does it only feed and perpetuate faulty narratives of a “war on Islam” and that mosques are breeding grounds for “radicalization?” What standard will the government of France use to declare something sufficiently “takfiri” or “radical?”

These questions and more are vital and need to be seriously engaged in a discussion on extremism, surveillance, civil and human rights.

After all, most of those who commit these acts aren’t known to frequent mosques, quite often they are religious novices. Radicalization doesn’t occur in the mosques: so how exactly is shutting these mosques down going to solve anything?


France is likely 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.

Following news that three mosques have already been closed since the November 13 attacks on the capital, 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.

“This kind of speech shouldn’t even be allowed in Islamic countries, let alone secure countries like France,” El Alaoui, who became the first Muslim prison chaplain-general in 2005, said.

The recent mosque closures, he added, were made under “a legal act that the authorities have” and must have happened because “of some illegal things that they found”.

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The following exchange with head of CCiF (Council Contre Islamophobia en France), Yasser Louati with Amy Goodman is extremely important.:

AMY GOODMAN: What about the effect of the mosques being raided on the Muslim community?

YASSER LOUATI (from Collective Against Islamophobia in France): Oh, an outrage and deep humiliation and complete abandonment by the government. The question was like, why? You know what’s going on in mosques. The Minister of Interior knows radicalization does not happen inside mosques and they just came here, they found nothing and started, like, pulling off ceilings. They smashed the libraries, threw books on the floor and just walked away. If it isn’t a sense of vengeance, you know, you are applying against Muslims, then what is it? Why not respect human dignity. I mean, like, you know, these Muslims are the very same target as you are people. Well you are not Muslims. Why hit them again by government forces that show no respect whatsoever? And when the pictures went viral on social media, the government said nothing about that.

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  • Friend of Bosnia

    I’m waiting for the first anti Muslim pogrom in Europe (since 1992-95) to be committed …it’s not a matter of if but of when.

  • downwithpants

    Lol they should close down any place where children are victimized.

  • Reynardine

    In short, if it’s winter in Chicago, you can’t wear a cloak or a muffler.

  • Reynardine

    I remember that.

  • Reynardine

    Don’t be surprised

  • AJ

    If Hollande was not banging mistresses one after the other, he probably would be doing a better job governing his country and saving it from a financial collapse. Now, it needs to steal some from Syria.

  • AJ

    Which rock did you climb under from?

  • AJ

    Which part of ISIS is classical/orthodox/historic? That they rape women or kill innocents? I am sure you will say both since you are obviously an ignoramus.

  • Heinz Catsup

    A far more logical solution than shutting mosques down.


    “PARIS, France — Kalashnikov ammunition and Islamic State of propaganda videos were seized in raids following the closure of a mosque in the Paris suburbs, French authorities said Sunday.”

    Looks like some are doing recruiting….

  • AJ

    I am sure all the Muslims countries that do business with France or buy their stuff will sit on their behinds, nice and quiet, pretending nothing happened.

  • George Carty

    Hard to say: on one hand, racists view them as “race traitors”,
    but of course, a white man who turns Muslim still looks like a white
    man: so they are most probably less likely to suffer from
    micro-aggressions in their day to day life.

    I suspect female converts would suffer a lot more hostility then, as they are marked out by their hijabs.

  • CadaveraVeroInnumero

    Is not ISIS classical, orthodox, historic Islam? Isn’t the proof that it is not placed on Loonwatch.

  • Laurent Weppe

    I’d always interpreted it to mean “rich outsiders come to an area and price out the locals”

    Like with everything else, context matters a lot: a neighborhood -a place– gentrifying often mean, indeed, that the local population are being driven out by wealthier (and quite often callous) newcomers, but a population gentrifying often means that the downtrodden and their descendants are gaining access to material (and often cultural) comforts once denied to them, which I for one view as an unambiguously good outcome.


    Does it have a different meaning in French, like how French “sensible” = English “sensitive”?

    Gentrification is not a word use in common French (we use “embourgeoisement” which is quite pejorative in its own right). It’s in social sciences that the term is used, with its meaning depending on the context, and since by training I’m an urbanist, I use my sciencey lingo in other type of conversations, sometimes.


    Incidentally, do white French converts to Islam face more or less hostility than “ethnic” Muslims?

    Hard to say: on one hand, racists view them as “race traitors“, but of course, a white man who turns Muslim still looks like a white man: so they are most probably less likely to suffer from micro-aggressions in their day to day life.

  • Dr.S
  • George Carty

    Not just a mass literacy campaign, but a campaign to finance the printing of appropriate books. IIRC Arab engineering students (for example) have to do their studies in French or English because no Arabic-language textbooks of the appropriate standard exist.

    There’s also the fusHa vs. dialect issue — France had a similar issue at one point, but solved it rather brutally

  • George Carty

    Interesting to see the word “gentrification” used so positively there — I’d always interpreted it to mean “rich outsiders come to an area and price out the locals”. Does it have a different meaning in French, like how French “sensible” = English “sensitive”?

    Incidentally, do white French converts to Islam face more or less hostility than “ethnic” Muslims?

  • This is generalizations,,,which mosques have ISIS recruiters?
    Tell the authorities.

    Also – I know that European intelligence agencies spy on young Muslim children of immigrants in parks where they gather, in schools, and at social events.

    What European states do also helps exclusion and alienation of European Muslims from their own countries. A big part of the problem is allowing radical right “political parties” to enter politics and even get into policy influence. Closing of mosques could be a result of National Front are other radicalized political ideas as a part of police and security police influence. “Assimilation are integration” appear to me to be discriminatory. First, telling Muslim immigrants they have to change their identity, and second, European societies are rejecting them anyway.

    Second, young people are already searching for their identity and Muslim young people are no different. There is a big problem with poverty and joblessness among Muslim communities — and this is a huge problem for young Muslims trying to seek a place in larger society. When larger society tells them “you don’t belong” and allows radical right wing ideas political legitimacy, the young person will search for purpose some place — and ISIS knows this — and is playing on this.

    Congratulations France — you’re being played by ISIS and giving them more recruiting propaganda to recruit more at-risk Muslim youth in your own backyard!

    Sorry – I will have NO sympathies for any European state that suffers another “terrorist attack” in the future and blame the deaths of innocent people in such an “attack” squarely on the European State where the “terrorist attack” took place!

  • The truth is that “terrorism” is just a violent crime…and nothing more than that. Treating “terrorism” differently than other violent crimes is the problem – and this madness of closing mosques is evidence of it. It’s also more evidence that Western governments regard Muslim communities as “suspect communities” and not a part of the solution to violent conduct by Muslims criminals. This is like closing down Catholic Churches because of child abuse by priests.

    This will lead to more political violence (“terrorism”), not less, and I will have less sympathy for the French State when it happens, but there will be more innocent victims that have nothing to do with the discriminatory behavior of the French State.

    This is discriminatory and there should be some complaint along the lines of human rights and the right to worship in European and international human rights institutions.

  • moraka

    Partially its exaggeration to promote understanding and partially because if they had a Muslim kristallnacht, they would suffer from an international crisis in the Islamic world. What differentiates persecution of Muslims compared to Jews or Gypsies is the fact that there are hundreds of millions of Muslims world wide and any open total fascist act will lead the Muslim world into anger. At the same time there is still some resentment towards fascist in popular culture. For that reason the world is running on moderate fascism.

  • mindy1

    If they have intelligence about specific people, arrest them. If not then let them be.

  • Laurent Weppe

    If France was a fascist country, there would already have been a Muslim kristallnacht here.

  • Laurent Weppe

    Do these idiot French government officials think closing mosque can stop Isis attacks?

    They don’t: they think it will stop people from voting for the far-right.

    The problem is that the french government, as well as most french politicians and pundits are petrified by a powerful taboo: they don’t dare to state that the far-right’s goal is to bring back the “good old days” of the Colonial Empire when rich white Frenchmen could with impunity treat people of arabic descent like cattle and fucktoys.

    Closing the 4% most reactionary french mosques won’t stop the slow but very real (and deserved) ongoing gentrification of the french Muslims and THIS is what the Le Pens and their voters want to stop.

  • Laurent Weppe

    If it isn’t a sense of vengeance, you know, you are applying against Muslims, then what is it?

    It is the foolish and vain hope that such act will satiate the population and stop the growth of the fascist voting block.

  • JD

    How do I put this .. The thinking of Muslims in EU is a lot different then the Muslim here in the states.August, the United Kingdom estimated to reporters that 500 British
    citizens were affiliated with ISIS in Syria and Iraq, but dramatically
    higher estimates began to circulate toward the end of 2014. Just get on face book and follow some of these stupid people online. They are Young
    Follow Radical Imam that flee ME and preach that same message once they enter the EU or Poor Ignorant Imams that preach Islam based on the situation in there country.

    Maybe just maybe it is a good idea to close some places down to keep ISIS recruiters in check and watch the message the open Mosques are preaching. I am not saying arrest people for teaching Islam but if they cross the line into Terrorist talk then go after them and deport them for betterment of rest of us.

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