French city to shut jihad-calling mosque to thwart possible terrorist attacks

French city to shut jihad-calling mosque to thwart possible terrorist attacks
Fearing potential terrorist attacks, the south-eastern city of Grenoble will temporarily close a mosque in which imams were allegedly calling for “armed jihad.” Over 400 worshippers attended the mosque each day.

The Al-Kawthar mosque, located in a populous Rue des Trembles district of Grenoble, has become fertile soil for disseminating “ideas and theories that provoke violence, hatred and discrimination,” the local prefecture said. It claimed the imam legitimized “armed jihad… Sharia and discrimination against women.”

The imam’s sermons allegedly stirred up hatred towards those practicing other religions. It is thought that over 400 Muslims attended the Al-Kawthar each day, according to French media.

The mosque will now be shut for six weeks and its assets will be frozen. To do so, Grenoble authorities invoked a specific French law which deals with prevention of terrorist attacks and threats to national security.

The city, which is home to over 162,000 residents, accommodates 20 mosques, including the Al-Kawthar, according to a local Muslim-oriented website.

Last year, it emerged that mosques in Aix-en-Provence, Sartrouville and Marseille were also closed for preaching radical Islamism. The move came after a string of terrorist attacks sent shockwaves across France, leaving multiple people killed and injured.

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Grenoble itself witnessed a terrorist attack in 2015, when a man was found beheaded at a local factory and an Islamist flag was seen flying over the facility. A 35-year-old man, Yassin Salhi, was arrested in the manhunt that followed. It later transpired that the victim of the attack was his boss.

In 2016, French authorities closed around 20 mosques considered to be spreading violent extremism. In all, there are some 2,500 mosques and prayer halls in France. Of those, around 120 are considered to be preaching radical Salafism, a strict Sunni interpretation of Islam.

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