Romina McGuinness, Express, January 23, 2017
The State Council – France’s highest administrative court – ruled the controversial Paris mosque is to remain closed until the end of the state of emergency in July.
This is the second time in less than three months that the mosque’s leaders attempt to reopen the prayer hall; and the second time that their plea is dismissed.
The Al Rawda mosque, a prayer hall located in Stains, an impoverished and multi-ethnic suburb north of Paris, was shut down by former interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve in November following a crackdown on religious extremists.
The mosque, which first opened its doors in 2013, attracted more than 600 worshippers for Friday prayers.
Mr Cazeneuve, who has since been appointed as France’s prime minister, said in November that the mosque has been closed because its imam “openly defended terrorism and promoted an ideology of hate”.
The imam was immediately fired and replaced with a more soft-spoken preacher, and the mosque’s leaders – the owners of a local Franco-Egyptian cultural centre – launched an anti-radicalisation website to counter jihadist propaganda in a gesture of “good faith”.
But State Council judges said it was “too soon” to know whether radical worshippers had been “smoked out,” and said that the mosque should remained closed.
In its ruling, the supreme court added that there were “three” mosques in Stains, and that local Muslims would have no trouble finding an “alternative” place of worship.
More than 20 radical mosques and prayer halls have been closed since France declared a national state of emergency – which gives police greater search-and-arrest powers – in November 2015, less than 48 hours after 130 people were killed by ISIS terrorists in Paris.