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France orders closure of mosque in the north of the country

France has ordered the closure of a mosque in the north of the country amid the radical nature of its imam’s preaching on Tuesday.

According to the regional authorities, the mosque in Beauvais, a town of 50,000 people some 100 kilometres (62 miles) north of Paris, will remain shut for six months.

According to the prefecture of the Oise region where Beauvais mosque is located, the sermons there incite hatred, violence and “defend jihad”.

Local daily Courrier Picard reported this month that the mosque’s imam was a recent convert to Islam.

As per the AFP report, the local authorities were legally bound to launch a 10-day period of information-gathering before taking action, however, the mosque would now be shut within two days.

A lawyer for the association managing the mosque told AFP that it had filed for an injunction to overturn the ban.

The lawyer, Samim Bolaky, said there would be a court hearing on the appeal within 48 hours.

According to the official document citing the reasons for the closure seen by AFP, the authorities claim that the imam, who the association claims had preached only occasionally and had now been suspended, was in fact a regular presence at the mosque.

It said the imam had called the jihad, a term for war against the enemies of Islam, a “duty”, and had glorified its fighters as “heroes” who protected Islam against Western influence.

He had also labelled non-Muslims as “enemies”, it said.

“The terrorist threat remains at a very high level” and the closure had “the aim of forestalling acts of terrorism being committed”, the document said.

The French interior ministry earlier this month notified that around 100 mosques and Muslim prayer halls out of the country’s total number of more than 2,600 have been investigated over recent months because of suspicion that they were spreading “separatist” ideology.

Six sites were being probed with a view to closing them down on the basis of French laws against extremism and Islamist separatism, it said.

Saman Siddiqui

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