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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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    • moraka

      By calling you stupid i shut down an argemument? Are you high?

    • JamalSalam

      Ah, another one that wants to shutdown argument by name calling. Well done. Sorry but I just see Islam as the creation of one man and his alter ego.

    • JamalSalam

      Thanks for your reply. On one point – ‘A child can see that if you slaughter people endlessly and plunder and dominate their lands, some of them will fight back’. But this is how the crusades started isn’t it? 400 years of aggressive and violent expansionism by Islam resulted in ‘Blowback’ as you put it.

      Another point – ‘They’re a mercenary army doing what they’re paid to do–not an organic outgrowth of Islam.’ History and islamic doctrines and scripture do not support this argument.

      I do agree that the west is behaving badly. We are being controlled by corporate interests and banking elites.

      Quite frankly I don’t see much joy in either side. Slaves to corporate and banking elites or slaves to Islam.

    • moraka

      You are the living definition of stupidity or else they let you use the computer in the madhouse to early. You come with a shallow wikipedia style explanation of fascism, then claim that somehow Islam is fascist despite the fact that fascism has virtually nothing in common with Islam. Never mind the fact that fascism is a secular European ideology from the modern period and Islam is a Abrahamic religion from the 7th century.

    • moraka

      That makes no sense and misses my point.

    • Mike Moore

      Hitler was Austrian and there is suggestions that he was also of jewish background. For anyone trying to make a point either pro-jewish or pro-islamic, using Hitler in their argument is dilussionall at best. Since everyone since WW2 realize he was simply an egomaniacal mental cripple.

    • Mike Moore

      If the mosque’s imams encites violence… (Which goes against the Quran teaching, according to muslim’s I’ve heard as well as Obama), then the imam is a terrorist and should be arrested and jailed in isolation. If the mosque’s parishioners protest, arrest them as terrorists, then after a period in prison, deport them. Based on the claims that islam is a peaceful religion. It can’t be both a peaceful religion while also espousing violence and or hate directed at non-muslims. You can’t have your cake and eat it too, so goes the saying. Furthermore, close down any mosques which harbor espousers of violence against non-muslims and ones found with weapons. Common sense, no rocket scientists needed. And any new immigrant should be required to swear an oath against violence against citizens of the country they migrate to. And to espouse good will and civility towards others that doesn’t worship their own ideology. With penalty of deportation.

    • George Carty

      François Hollande reminds me of Ramsay MacDonald, the British Labour Prime Minister during the early part of the Great Depression. Just as MacDonald was trapped by the Gold Standard (which forced him to pass many policies that screwed over the working classes), so Hollande is likewise trapped by the Euro.

    • George Carty

      It’s more likely they’re trying to pander to the Islamophobes in the hope they won’t vote FN.

    • George Carty

      Drinking into oblivion? I thought that was more a national pastime in more northerly countries (the beer belt and especially the vodka belt), not a wine-belt nation like France.

    • George Carty

      Aren’t almost all jihadists from Western countries radicalized not in mosques, but in universities or via internet hate propaganda?

    • HobgoblinTruth

      Looks like we got another “moderate Muslim” in here.

    • Sam Seed

      I know a guy called Sandy at work, it’s an Scottish name.

    • Sam Seed

      100% correct Illisha!

    • Yausari

      We have a problem where people think that are “many” sects in Islam when they’re only two, sunni and shia. I don’t know if they know this, but for typical islamophobe; you know what’s going to happen. But let’s assume he is an expert of Islam, because he acts like one For example; many thinks that wahabi is a sect. When it is a tribe. If those people are asked whether they are sunni or shia. they will say sunni. People like this “CadaveraVeroInnumero” and the likes will deny and approve it whenever convenient. Like when we say ‘Taqiyah is shia’s teaching’…. well you know the rest.

    • Amie

      Well,… what to say? Europeans are looking for any excuse to try to discredit Islam as religion and to discriminate against Muslims in general. While there might be radicals attending mosques, at the same time they are saying that the mosques are the places where people get radicalized. How so? What makes one person be practicing Muslim believer, yet peaceful and not an ISIS lover, while the other is just an opposite–and they attend the same mosque? The obvious answer is that it is not the religion of Islam, Qur’an or the mosque. It is individual people. Just like one Christian decides that his God forbids abortions and goes out to attack abortion clinics, another one may believe that his God is merciful that even women who do abortions will be forgiven. However, by closing down mosques or taking other anti-religion measures specifically aimed at Islam, the Westerners are showing that in their fight against radicalism they are also indirectly attacking the religion of Islam.

    • AJ

      Care to give examples of ISIS’s actions rooted in the Quran?

    • CadaveraVeroInnumero

      Are you asking me to accept a Shia rebuttal against the Sunni claims of ISIS? What value is there in that? What makes a Shia declaration of jihad more credible than a Sunni (by ISIS, a resurgent Turkish Ottoman Calipahye, or the self-elevated rights of the House of Saud)?

      However one (Shia, Sunni, certified accredited Muslim scholar, or plain ordinary Joe) lays out the proper procedural (juridical) steps in declaring jihad the end result (goal) is the same – the global submission to Islam: every land & peoples, every man,, woman, and unborn babe.

    • TheSyndicate2006

      Nah, France prides itself on people drinking into oblivion, having premarital sex, mocking other religions, hating foreigners especially North African types, and think their cuisine is all that. Closing down bars and gay clubs would be an assault on their fascist secular ideology.

    • downwithpants

      I dont think Sandy is a guy’s name…then again it is 2015.

    • Friend of Bosnia

      Well, in the same way as many other fora are dominated by bigots, racists, fascists and genocidals. One might get the impression that the world is full of them. I could say with the same justification that a majority of a certain people (you know whom I mean) are exactly that. Well, maybe not a majority but, alas, a very large proportion. Recently their Prime Minister expressed the wish that his people and their neighbors, whom they tried to exteminate could “live in peace together for 100 years”. Good, and then what?

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