French Court Rejects Government Order to Forcibly Close Mosque

On April 26, France's highest administrative court rejected the Interior Ministry's appeal to continue closing down a mosque. The Conseil d'Etat, on Tuesday, dismissed an appeal that will challenge the previous suspension of a closure order.

The Interior Ministry has been shutting down mosques all over France, citing radicalization concerns.

Last year, a mosque in Beauvais, northern France, was shut down over alleged radicalization. Gerald Darmanin, the Interior Minister, said they have evidence that the Imam "is targeting Christians, homosexuals, and Jews" in his sermons.

Local authorities in Beauvais said the Imam's speech "incited hatred, violence and "defend jihad."

A mosque in Allones was also shut down by the Interior Ministry, citing the same allegations.

The closures come in the wake of the anti-separatism law that was enacted last year designed to "bolster France's secular system." Darmanin introduced the bill.

This year, France's Interior Ministry ordered the closure of a mosque in the city of Pessac, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, in southwestern France, on March 14. The local interior ministry office accused the mosque of promoting radical Islamist ideology, inciting hatred, and justifying terrorism.

Sefen Guez Guez Guez, the mosque's lawyer, dismissed the allegations. Guez Guez explained that the interior ministry's case had not established any links between the mosque's activities and any allegations.

Guez Guez maintained that the mosque is an open and peaceful place of worship.

"That decision sets a legal precedent which will slow down the successive mosque closures we've seen these past few months," he said.

"We hope it is a cooling down sign," Guez Guez added.

According to Reuters, this is the first instance where a court has declined to uphold a government decision based on a "white memo." White memos are documents prepared by the French intelligence services.

Fionnuala Ni Aolain, the UN's special rapporteur on protecting human rights while countering terrorism, compared the French government's actions as "Kafkaesque." "The flirtation with secretive evidence is worrying, but it also breaches provisions in international treaties," Aolain added.

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