French police launch crackdown on mosques suspected of 'Islamic separatism'
Scores of mosques in France were raided on Thursday as part of the government's crackdown on so-called Islamic separatism and political Islam.
In the wake of deadly attacks and in a stated attempt to tackle "extremism", French President Emmanuel Macron is making efforts to centralise the formation and accreditation of Muslim religious leaders in the country. His plans have been criticised by some in the Muslim community in France and abroad.
French authorities said at least 2,600 Muslim places of worship were set to be inspected with plans to close dozens of them.
The raids took place in Paris, Lyon, Marseille and other cities, according to French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, who is spearheading a campaign against perceived Islamic separatism in France.
'Seventy-six mosques suspected of separatism are going to be inspected in the coming days, and those that should be closed will be closed'
- Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin
“Seventy-six mosques suspected of separatism are going to be inspected in the coming days, and those that should be closed will be closed,” said Darmanin.
Macron and Darmanin's campaign against "Islamic separatism" follows the murder of Samuel Paty, a teacher killed by a student after he showed caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad to his pupils as part of a lesson about free speech.
Darmanin has faced heavy criticism from rights groups after he ordered the dissolution of Muslim charity BarakaCity and the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF), which monitors Islamophobic attacks across the country.
Last month, Macron issued an ultimatum to the French Council of Muslim Worship (CFCM) to draw up a charter of "republican values" its member organisations and affiliates will be expected to comply with.
The CFCM agreed to create a National Council of Imams, which will reportedly issue imams with official accreditation that could be withdrawn.
The charter will state that Islam is a religion and not a political movement, while also prohibiting "foreign interference" in Muslim groups.