Thursday, December 03, 2015

French Authorities Close Four Mosques During State of Emergency

Authorities suspect members of mosques had been nurturing Islamist radicalization

By William Horobin, WSJ
Dec. 2, 2015 12:56 p.m. ET

PARIS—French authorities have used sweeping emergency powers instated since the Nov. 13 terror attacks to close down four mosques suspected of nurturing Islamist radicalization, France’s interior minister said Wednesday.

The closures targeted what Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve called “preachers of hate, self-proclaimed pseudo-imams and cultural pseudo-associations calling for hatred.”

In Wednesday raids at the homes of the leaders of a mosque in Lagny-Sur-Marne, 22 miles east of Paris, authorities found a 9-millimeter revolver, documents about jihad and an encrypted hard drive, he said.

Investigators are also using powers granted under France's state of emergency to restrict the movement of people suspected of being radicalized. Following the dawn raids in Lagny-Sur-Marne, authorities banned 22 people from leaving the country and confined nine of them to their homes.

The sweep was part of the government’s massive security crackdown in the weeks since coordinated attacks on the streets of Paris left 130 people dead and hundreds injured. Since President François Hollande declared a state of emergency the night of the attacks, police have conducted more than 2,200 raids on homes and businesses, detained 232 people and seized 334 weapons, including 34 military weapons.

The other mosques closed since the declaration of a state of emergency are in Nice, Lyon and Gennevilliers, a northwestern Paris suburb, Mr. Cazeneuve said. “We will be totally firm against all those who preach hate in France,” Mr. Cazeneuve told lawmakers.

Despite the raids, French officials have cautioned against concluding that mosques in France are hotbeds for radicalization. “We must not cut ties with loyal Muslims of good faith,” Lagny-Sur-Marne’s mayor, Jean-Paul Michel, said on French television channel BFMTV.

(More here.)

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