Last month’s ISIS attacks in Paris led to a state of emergency, and the extension of that state for three months had rights activists warning that the French government was going to dramatically limit personal freedom, and use it to crack down on people unrelated to ISIS. Just two weeks later, this appears prophetic.
Already, the state of emergency has meant thousands of raids, on private homes, apartments, restaurants, etc. Three mosques have been closed, and hundreds detained. The detentions haven’t been limited to ISIS suspects or even Muslims, with the French government placing a number of climate activists under house arrest or in detention on the same basis.
The closure of mosques is just a drop in the bucket, as well, with reports that the French Interior Ministry intends to close somewhere between 100 and 160 mosques nationwide. Though this includes “extremist” mosques, it will also target those who are fueling sectarian unrest, as well as some who just don’t have the right government licenses.
Locals warn that France, with a 7.6% Muslim population, is already short on mosques, with difficulty securing licenses leading to crowded conditions. They caution that not only will the closures make matters worse in this regard, it will add to the sense that Muslims are being persecuted in the country, and in the long run could do more for Islamist recruitment than the extremist mosques could ever do.
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